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Hong Kong environmental issues

Hong Kong must cut plastic waste, but hands off umbrella covers for the sake of safety

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 1:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 1:00am

I refer to the letter from Tsui Kit-lam on plastic waste in Hong Kong (“Stop providing plastic covers for umbrellas”, September 4). I disagree. It is undeniable that plastic waste harms the environment, since plastics take hundreds of years to disintegrate. With our landfills expected to reach maximum capacity within a few years, we need an effective policy to combat the mounting waste problem. But is it necessary to eliminate plastic umbrella covers?

Such covers for wet brollies are usually found in shopping malls or government facilities, like the library and the museum, and what’s common among these places? There is a large flow of people every day. Without any covers, dripping umbrellas would raise the risk of injury on slippery wet floors.

Hong Kong government ‘taking lead’ in plastic waste

Alternatives such as umbrella dryers are welcome, but they only work for stick umbrellas. Most people carry the foldable type, and therefore the dryers are not an option. Furthermore, these dryers are usually installed at an entrance and queuing to use them will cause delays. It takes only seconds to put your umbrella in a plastic cover and leave.

We should try to reduce plastic waste in every way possible, but seek a balance between practicality and environmentally friendly measures. We should promote the concept of reuse and reduce, as in, use the same plastic cover multiple times, and only get a new one when it’s damaged.

Raymond Chan, Ngau Tau Kok

Charge a lot more for plastic bags to break the habit

Communities worldwide are trying to create zero-plastic cities, and the Hong Kong government has also stepped up its campaign to reduce plastic usage. For instance, it expanded the 50 HK cents levy on plastic shopping bags in 2015. However, this seems to have had little effect, sometimes because retailers are failing to enforce it, or because shoppers are avoiding the charge by using thinner plastic bags meant for fresh produce.

I think the price of plastic shopping bags should be raised drastically, to maybe HK$10 each. This would surely act as a greater deterrent for consumers. Plastics take hundreds of years to decompose and can pose a threat to marine life, as well as block drains and cause floods. So drastic action to reduce plastic use is called for.

Nicole Cheung, Wong Tai Sin