Oh no, more mooncakes! Hong Kong likely to waste Mid-Autumn Festival delicacy and glow sticks in mass quantities, survey finds

Families projected to buy more of both items for this year’s festival than in past

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2016, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2016, 9:38pm

A third of Hong Kong families will buy glow sticks to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, according to a survey by a local environmental group, which also reported that 40 million glow sticks were wasted last year following the annual celebration.

Hong Kong families are becoming more inclined to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with glow sticks as opposed to lanterns, the environmental group Green Power said. But glow sticks are extremely hard to recycle because separating the plastic cylinder from the chemicals is difficult and the chemicals could potentially damage soil, water and even human health.

The survey, involving 330 people in Hong Kong, revealed that on average a family planning to shop for glow sticks would buy up to 61 of them this year – up slightly from last year’s total of 58 per family. The number of wasted glow sticks in the city has steadily risen the past few years, the group added.

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Henry Lui, a senior conservation manager at Green Power, said that rather than selling large glow sticks individually, companies now tend to sell “slimmer glow sticks in a bundle of about 50”, which he said had triggered a surge in purchases.

Green Power has been researching ways to make glow sticks more environmentally friendly, but to no avail. “We urge the public to just say no to glow sticks altogether,” he said.

Aside from glow sticks, the city is also wasting a lot of mooncakes in light of the festival, the group said. Green Power reported last year one million mooncakes were wasted locally, at an average rate of 0.42 mooncake per family.

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Last year’s amount of wasted mooncakes was the city’s lowest in 12 years. But the recently conducted survey showed that Hong Kong families would buy more mooncakes this year than last year.

Families last year planned to buy on average 2.5 boxes of mooncake, he said, with this year’s projection averaging 2.9 boxes per family. Lui added that 37 per cent of the surveyed families predicted they would receive more mooncakes than they actually needed, compared to 33 per cent last year.

The survey also revealed that 60 per cent of Hongkongers did not like to receive mooncakes as gifts for the festival, with 12 per cent strongly against receiving them.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said that since 2014, the department had published tips on waste reduction in the run-up to the festival. The guidelines included advice that the use of glow sticks should be avoided, with the department recommending instead lanterns of a simple design which can be reused or self-made lanterns created using waste. Similar advice for this year’s festival would be issued next week, the spokesman said.