Because five years is more than enough time for you to ban disposable plastics, polystyrene food containers, and raw polystyrene marine products for good.
On November 30, 2019 I wrote to Maisie Cheng, the Director of Environmental Protection of the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD) about banning single-use plastics once and for all from Hong Kong by the year 2025. My question to her was simple. Developing nations have already done it. Why haven’t we done it too?
I never heard back.
The waste situation in Hong Kong is critical. The EPD spent more than 10 years on planning the Waste Charging Scheme which had been expected to reduce solid waste by 40% by 2022. Then in June of 2020, lawmakers dumped the idea. How much time and resources were wasted on it?
Hong Kongers care for their environment. They want to recycle Yet, where are the resources? As of December 31, 2019 the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) had 12,214 registered litter containers. Yet, there were only 1,982 recycle bins in all of Hong Kong. This means for every single recycle bin, there are 6X more rubbish bins. Moreover, for the entire year of 2019, the FEHD increased the total number of recycle bins by ONLY 1 as at December 31, 2018 there were 1,981 registered recycle bins. How can Hong Kongers recycle if the government is unwilling to provide the resources? There’s an orange waste bin on almost every street corner. Yet look around you, where is the nearest recycle bin? Society in Hong Kong craves convenience and the system is currently set-up to make it a heck of a lot more convenient for people to dump materials that could be recycled into readily available rubbish bins.
The FEHD had roughly 11,800 staff dedicated to keeping the streets of Hong Kong clean in March of 2019. While at the same time, only 800 across ALL of the FEHD, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, the Marine Department, and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department are deployed during the peak time for engaging in marine refuse cleanup work. It’s no wonder the shores of Hong Kong are some of the most polluted in the world.
So now the EPD proposes the Regulation of Disposable Plastic Tableware that aims to introduce “…legislation in phases to regulate disposable plastic tableware, including expanded polystyrene (EPS) tableware, straws, stirrers, cutlery (such as forks, knives and spoons), plates, cups, cup lids, food containers (such as bowls and boxes) and food container covers”. In short, their proposal is to have these banned by 2035 by implementing the ban in two phases with disposable plastics included with take-away food not being included until the second phase although it accounts for the greatest amount of disposable plastic waste in the catering industry. 2035, is far too long for the security of Hong Kong waters to wait. As recently demonstrated, the government has the capability to enact new legislation and implement enforcement on a rapid basis. The government is considering the implementation of the first phase by 2025 and the second phase some time after. Instead, Hong Kong needs a full and complete ban by 2025.
It is now open for public consultation. Please review the English proposal (Chinese Version) and complete the online feedback form (Chinese Version). Or as an alternative, print the response form “Scheme on Regulation of Disposable Plastic Tableware” on pages 27-30 of the proposal and submit by email, post, or fax before September 8, 2021 to:
Post: Waste Reduction and Recycling Group, Environmental Protection Department
2/F, East Wing, Island West Transfer Station, 88 Victoria Road, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
Fax: 2872 0389
Tell them 2035 is too late.
Hong Kong needs a full and complete ban of disposable plastics by 2025.
Sign-up for the next public consultation online meeting to be held on August 31, 2021 to get your voice heard.