“I’ve collected some unusual items on clean ups over the years but today’s was a new level of odd,” says Esther Roling, co-founder of Hong Kong’s Adventure Clean-up Challenge, an annual one-month event with a mission to clear hard-to-access coastal areas of rubbish. “I was with a group at Lap Sap Wan on Cape D’Aguilar [in the southeast of Hong Kong Island] and we discovered a cremation urn. Luckily there were some government officials there cleaning up, so we handed it to them.” Roling says the area had so much rubbish and built up polystyrene that the beach was springy to walk on. In 2015 the bay made headlines when a WWF-HK study estimated the weight of the litter at Lap Sap Wan was 185 tonnes with about 12 million individual pieces of litter. Sadly, Dutch-born Roling is accustomed to such horror stories. But the biggest eye opener came in 2017 when she and her husband Paul Niel completed the first “coasteering” expedition of Hong Kong Island . For six days the couple walked, climbed and swam the 80km coastline, along the way mapping 163 trash pollution hotspots while collecting 51 water samples to make a first-of-its-kind open sourced pollution map . Their adventure has been turned into a documentary, The Loop. It screens at The Hive Central on October 23. A screening will be held on November 16 as part of the HK Eco Film Festival. Roling says the film’s aim is to show areas of the city that are not cleaned daily by government- employed beach cleaners. And she says what was captured on film will shock. “We wanted to give people a glimpse of the areas they don’t have easy access to, to show just how much waste has accumulated along the coastline. The amount of rubbish will shock people … we are all guilty for this mess,” she says, adding that as well as bouts of eco anxiety, the couple battled black rainstorms, jellyfish and mosquitoes as they clambered the island’s barnacled cliffs. Austrian-born globetrotter Niel, who has climbed the highest mountains on every continent, the celebrated “Seven Summits”, and is one of a handful of climbers to scale two 8,000m peaks – Mt Everest and Lhotse – within 24 hours, says while they always planned to do a short film about the adventure the initial plan was to make it an outdoor/adventure film. “When we realised the extent of pollution the mission and objective changed and we moved more towards a film that showcases how we live with our environment,” says Niel. “With this film, we want to show that we can all do something to reduce the impact of trash on our environment. We also wanted to show that adventures can be hidden in plain sight … also on your doorstep.” One of the panellists at the October 23 screening is Doug Woodring , founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance. “ The Loop is a great example of the spirit that exists in this city to make the environment a better place, even against the odds of a free-market economy where companies don’t need to ‘pay to play’,” says Woodring. Woodring says recycling is a major issue, compounded by the move on January 1 last year when China stopped accepting enormous amounts of recyclable waste from around the world. “Hong Kong, like many countries in the West, and Japan, with relatively higher labour costs, exported most of their materials for recycling, and so they did not invest in their own ‘onshore’ capacities for sorting, cleaning and processing at scale. “Now, with countries not wanting materials for recycling that are not cleaned first, these countries have it piling up on their doorsteps. This is a big shock to the global system, and one that is needed to spur new innovations and capacity to handle plastic – a material that does not go away.” For more details about the Adventure Clean-up Challenge visit adventurecleanup.org/ For details on The Loop screening visit here.