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Hong Kong environmental issues

Plastic pollution is a global threat, so is Hong Kong finally catching on?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 9:02pm

I cannot agree more with Doug Woodring's comment about the need to change our consumption habits to help with plastic waste reduction (“Hong Kong businesses’ plastic addiction shows they don’t care about the communities they serve”, June 22).

The adverse impact of plastic pollution on our environment has prompted actions worldwide in minimising the use of single-use plastic items such as straws, cutlery, food containers, bottled water, etc. Restaurants and businesses should cut down on these plastic items and unnecessary packaging, unless it is requested by customers.

Hong Kong has been successful with the plastic bag levy and many Hongkongers are now used to carrying their own shopping bags.

The government is considering a plastic bottle deposit-and-refund scheme, which is long overdue. Similar schemes have been introduced in many developed countries – Canada, Germany and Finland, to name just a few. Hongkongers are price-sensitive. Such a scheme can prompt them towards proper disposal of used plastic bottles.

“Reverse vending machines” which return “deposits” should be placed in big supermarkets in easily accessible locations, to encourage a higher rate of return. I hope the government can quicken its pace, as it is an issue causing grave concern for us and our future generation.

‘Reverse vending machines’ could dispense cash for used bottles

Another big plastic “evil” which needs to be tackled is the straw. Straws in cold drinks are not necessary. Various “no straw” campaigns have been very successful, with many celebrities in the West supporting it. Hong Kong’s pop idols and celebrities, too, should help to heighten people’s awareness of plastic pollution.

Watch: Trailer of the documentary ‘Straws’, narrated by actor Tim Robbins

The harm to the environment is so severe that our future is clearly unsustainable if we do not act now. Local universities have ongoing campaigns to reduce plastic waste, and recently joined hands in a project to discourage the use of plastic straws. Schools should also help to educate our younger kids about plastic pollution.

Schoolchildren will soon have their summer break when they can go to the beaches to swim and play. We certainly do not want them to swim in a sea of plastic rubbish.

Health risks multiply as Hong Kong fails to control plastic pollution

There are families in Southeast Asia who live just next to a river full of plastic rubbish. The recent death of a pilot whale in Thailand because of plastic pollution in the ocean is a serious warning to all of us, wherever we live.

We should act in unison to minimise plastic pollution. The government, schools, educators, businesses and individuals should work together and play our parts as socially responsible individuals and corporate citizens of this global village.

Beatrice Lee, Lam Tin