Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club to stop selling drinks in plastic bottles

The move, and a ban on straws and plastic bags, is a reaction to the volume of plastic debris floating in seas around the city and the fact recycling in Hong Kong ‘is effectively non-existent’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 May, 2016, 1:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2016, 10:25am

Its members disgusted by the sight of plastic debris seen floating in the city’s waters, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club says it will stop selling drinks in disposable plastic bottles and providing members with plastic bags and straws.

The club will launch the initiative on June 8 to mark World Oceans Day.

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“Reducing the amount of waste being dumped into our oceans is one of the challenges of our time,” says Anthony Day, rear commodore, sailing, of the club, whose headquarters is at the former Kellett Island in Causeway Bay. “Here in Hong Kong, where recycling is effectively non-existent, it’s impossible to sail far without being struck by the amount of plastic that finds its way into our waters and onto our beaches.”

Earlier this year, research cited by the journal Science estimated that in 2010 alone, 275 million tonnes of land-based plastic waste found its way into the oceans from 192 countries, the largest number of them in Asia. Researchers came up with the figure by linking global data on solid waste, population density and economic status.

Day says he hopes other organisations will mark World Oceans Day by announcing similar ocean protection initiatives and steadily increase their commitment to the cause.

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Doug Woodring, a co-founder of Hong Kong-based charity the Ocean Recovery Alliance, says the club’s initiative sends a strong message to others who appreciate the oceans.

“Only a small percentage of plastic actually ever gets recycled, even though it is ‘recyclable’, because our systems are not sufficient enough to handle all of the plastic material that we create, use and discard all over the world,” Woodring says.

“The ocean does not absorb this material when plastic gets into the water, so it is imperative that we as a community help to keep the plastic out of our waste stream in the first place as much as possible.”