38% Of Marine Rubbish On Hong Kong's Shores Came From Mainland China
(Photo: REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo)
A new study by The Green Earth revealed Hong Kong's shores received seven folds of marine litter from mainland China than what the government thought. Environmental Protection Department noted in a 2015 study only 5 percent of trash came from up north, but the environmental advocacy group found out 38 percent of rubbish on local shorelines came from the mainland.
"Our results may only serve as a reference but from the huge discrepancy between our figures and the government's," project officer Mandy Cheung Wing-man said, per the South China Morning Post. "It's clear the government may have severely underestimated the contribution of mainland rubbish in Hong Kong."
A group led by the government gathered 15,000 tons of rubbish on Hong Kong's shores between April 2013 and March 2014. It found out about 5 percent or 750 tons of trash was from mainland China and the rest came from the city itself.
As Hong Kong is known for using traditional Chinese characters on its labels, the group determined the trash came from the city by identifying its labels. However, Cheung explained looking through the Chinese letterings might not be the most accurate way to identify if the trash was domestic or from the mainland. She even complained the unlabeled waste was considered to be local.
Unfortunately, over 70 percent of the found garbage was composed of plastic and foam, which were all non-biodegradable. According to Yahoo News Singapore, The Green Earth executive director Edwin Lau Che-Feng urged the government of Hong Kong and Guangdong province to reinforce its regional cooperation to reduce waste in the city. Also, he is asking to enact a law that will ask the manufacturers to put proper recycling into practice.
Environmental Protection Department, on the other hand, revealed The Green Earth only used a small plastic bottle as its example. So the results might vary in different situations, seasons, and locations. Also, things could be different if it was another kind of rubbish.
Although it supported The Green Earth's claim that what it did to identify local trash was not accurate, Environmental Protection Department insisted there was "no objective way" to find out the percentage and origin of foreign rubbish. It also said its 2015 study was just a reference and not the actual amount mainland's garbage on Hong Kong's shores.
Meanwhile, a government working group would try to solve the problem in the marine litter with the use of "three-pronged strategy." It aimed to reduce the overall waste generation at source, remove garbage that came to the waters, and discourage the use of plastics and disposable items. The Hong Kong-Guangdong Marine Environmental Management Special Panel would also lend a hand to help.
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