Ban plastic microbeads in personal care products in Hong Kong
Launched: 19 July 2015
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Every year millions of tonnes of plastic trash enters our global oceans. The HKSAR Government has recognised the serious plastic marine waste problem in Hong Kong, which was highlighted during the wide scale 2012 plastic pellet spill cleanup. It was understood then that the size of plastic particles in the marine environment is important as micro plastic is easily ingested by marine life. A newly recognized threat to marine life is from tiny plastic microbeads used in personal care products. These microbeads can never be cleaned up once they enter the sea.
We would like you to sign and share this petition, asking the HKSAR Government to amend the Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance (CAP 603) to prohibit the sale, importation and production of personal care products containing plastic microbeads in Hong Kong.
Many leading brands of personal care products use these tiny particles of plastic as an exfoliating and cleansing ingredient. These products are designed to be washed down the drain where the microbeads can pass through wastewater and sewage filtration systems, and are ultimately released out to sea. Microbeads act as sponges, absorbing and accumulating persistent organic pollutants (flame retardants, dioxins and pesticides), which are present in lakes and oceans. In addition, microbeads never fully degrade.
Scientific studies have shown that microbeads can be ingested by sea animals such as plankton, clams and shrimp. As these organisms are at the bottom of the marine food chain, it is likely that the fish and seafood we are eating may have ingested these potentially toxic microbeads.
The number of microbeads per product varies widely. One commonly used scrub product sold in Hong Kong states on the packaging that it contains 1,000,000 black and white ‘scrubs’ in the 100ml tube. Another brand claims it contains 2,000 beads per use.
Please click on this link to watch plastic particles being ingested by plankton. (University of Exeter) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGzIz9Ld-sE
Leading governments in Europe, Canada and the US have been reviewing their policies and enacting legislation to protect their waterways from plastic microbeads used in personal care products. In Canada, microbeads will be added to the List of Toxic Substances, allowing the government to regulate microbeads under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In 2008, The Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance (CAP 603) of Hong Kong was created to minimize the environmental impact of certain types of products. As microbeads in personal care products have been globally identified as a source point of marine pollution, they can effectively be addressed under this ordinance here in Hong Kong.
The use of microbeads is an unnecessary form of plastic pollution as there are benign alternatives such as sugar, salt and crushed nuts, which have successfully been used by many brands around the world.
For more information, go to www.plasticfreeseas.org/microbeads
To Mr Wong Kam-sing and the EA Panel Chairperson,
Through the Working Group on Clean Shorelines you have acknowledged that Hong Kong’s waters are polluted with plastic. Worldwide, there is a growing concern about the increase in micro plastic pollution, and studies have shown that this is also a problem in Hong Kong.
Microbeads in personal care products are internationally recognized as a source of micro plastic marine pollution. Leading governments in Europe, Canada and the US are protecting their waterways from these plastic microbeads through legislation. Likewise, the HKSAR Government needs to implement legislation which will prevent microbeads from entering our waterways. As microbeads cannot be removed once they enter the sea, this is the only way to effectively stop this type of water pollution.
We request that the HKSAR Government immediately recognize this issue and amend the Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance (CAP 603) to prohibit the sale, importation and production of personal care products containing plastic microbeads in Hong Kong.