A recent visit to a Tai Koo supermarket left me gobsmacked by the sheer amount of overpackaged fruit and vegetables on display, some pieces mummified within layers of plastic.
Last year, green groups applauded the government's move to implement a 50-cent charge on plastic shopping bags, which, the Environmental Protection Department says, is reducing their use by up to 90 per cent. The move was much needed. According to 2012 data from the department, about 14 million plastic bags were disposed of in Hong Kong every day, comprising a huge chunk of the 13,800 tonnes of waste dumped in landfills on a daily basis.
But there is still much to be done, says a report by a British-based charity. The New Plastics Economy report, released last month by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation at the World Economic Forum, states that plastic production globally has surged from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes in 2014, and is expected to double in 20 years as demand grows. It forecasts that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050.
The report concludes that a major rethink on the plastic economy is needed, saying "a global effort to achieving such systemic change will require major collaboration efforts between all stakeholders across the global plastics value chain".
With this in mind, suppliers and supermarkets would be wise to scrap the wrap or, even better, take a leaf out of the green book of Original Unverpackt ("originally unpackaged"). The Berlin supermarket, established in 2014, has a zero-waste no-packaging policy (shoppers bring their own containers and stock up on generic brand products), which is proving popular with consumers.
Now that should make retailers in Hong Kong green with envy.