Plastic Problems

Plastic Problems

1 August, 2016
Bring your own bottle, bag, and box

Feeling thirsty? Grab a chilled bottle of water at the nearest convenience store. Heavy rain? Pack the wet umbrella in a plastic bag. Getting hungry? Buy a takeaway packed in a styrofoam box with disposable utensils… Our life is glutted with plastic bottles, bags and boxes – we use so many disposable plastics once, and they live in landfills for centuries.
In 2014, an average of 9782 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) was dumped in Hong Kong landfills daily, equaling to the weight of 640 double-decker bus, of which 20 per cent is plastic waste. Landfilled plastic waste comprised of bags, bottles, packaging materials and polyfoam dining wares. Although some of this plastic waste is recovered and recycled, the recycling rate is far too low.

However, the responsibility does not lie with a single party, as manufacturers, distributors, retailer and consumers are all producers. The Government should develop a holistic waste management policy in stimulating society to change. An active and reliable producer responsibility scheme (PRS) can encourage environmentally-friendly product by making producers accountable for the cost of the waste generation. Under the "polluter pays" principle, implementing MSW charging schemes can advocate the consumer to reduce household and commercial waste. At the same time, if untreated waste and recyclables (such as PET plastic) are banned from entering the landfill, the recycling rate and the lifespan of the three strategic landfills will increase.

With dedicated efforts in “Zero Waste”, Friends of the Earth (HK) have set up events and activities for public outreach – such as promoting “Waste, No Way” and organizing “The Path Towards Introducing Waste Charging in Hong Kong” seminar as well as engaging estate residents and university orientation camp organizers through the “Green Delight in Estates” and “Green O Camp” programmes.

On 24 June 2016, NGOs and businesses were invited to share their insights in an eco-health talk about adopting BYOB3 (Bring Your Own Bottle, Bag and Box) to reduce plastic waste. Learning about the marine plastic problem, innovative solutions and corporate best practices, participants pledged to adopt BYOB3 at their workplace to drive towards a sustainable lifestyle.

For more information about adopting BYOB3 and LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability), a 13-episode “Earth COOL living” programme is broadcasted on RTHK DAB 31 from 12 July to 4 Oct (every Tuesday night from 9:00pm – 10:00 pm). Along with sharing COOL Living tips in food, clothes, living and transportation, the programme will invite local singer-songwriter to promote LOHAS 10 Do’s and R8 (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rehome, Repair, Redesign, Recycle and Resources).

Waste is a common dilemma of affluent societies. The problem cannot be solved by a single party. The government, corporations and individuals must work together to overcome the problem in achieving “Zero Waste” society.

For more information please refer to the following links:
COOL Corporate Eco-Health Talk Series: Achieving Zero Waste Practices through BYOB3
CIBS (Community Involvement Broadcasting Srvice): Earth Cool Living!publicengagement/vbn68
Yui Leung is a project officer at Friends of the Earth (HK).

By: Yui Leung


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