To Director of Environmental Protection,
As you are well aware, the world is facing a global waste problem with wastes, particularly plastic ones, accumulating in the seas. Those wastes create many problems, amongst which the biggest two are surely the direct impact it has on marine life and the micro-particules finding their way into our food chain. Hong Kong is a particularly exposed place by its population density but also behaviour (see link #1).
In that regards, we, as a society, have to be cautious of our actions, we need to reduce our waste production and an easy way to do so is to cut any non-essential usage.
Your PSB Charging scheme is already a good step in the direction of plastic reduction but we would like here to attract your attention on a particular problem: the umbrellas plastic bags.
In Hong-Kong, it is now a common practice to see plastic bags distributed on rainy days for the only reason to carry the wet umbrellas. Those plastic bags are discarded extremely quickly and participate to the waste problem we have in Hong Kong. This is further enhanced by the fact that they are distributed freely with distributors put in plain sight at the door of shopping malls, office buildings,… people are almost invited to use them, this does not foster a proper attitude in regards of those bags. Furthermore, once used, they are by definition full of water and nobody wants to keep them for re-use, they are discarded on the spot. But as there is not always trash bins beside the exit, people discard them sometimes in non adequate places or in outside trash bins where the wind is then able to carry those bags away and in the environment.
There is additionally another problem: In an effort to be more green, some places, rather than stopping the plastic bags, replace them by so-called biodegradable ones. This is actually counter-productive as the biodegradable bags give a sense of “green” to the user who are feeling less guilty if they release them in the environment while those bags are in fact as problematic if not more than the standard plastic bags (see link #2).
We understand the risk of slippery floor in case of wet conditions but this can be prevented by other means than disposable plastic bags that create additional waste.
In an effort to combat this pollution, some establishments are already experimenting some solutions such as :
laying carpet on the floor to avoid it to become slippery, this is very effective and has an immediate effect.
umbrellas dryers : this require the customer to get accustomed to it but per observation, this is rather positively accepted by the public.
Those solutions are totally waste free and very effective.
It is also possible to see that in other countries, such bags are not in use even when the country face similar weather as Hong Kong. In those places, people know how to shake their umbrellas outside before coming in so that it does not drip too much. The building code is also such that “slippery when wet” floors are not used in places that are likely to be wet in rainy weather.
We therefore here ask you, as the department in charge of the environment protection to take a simple action to help protect marine life and our food chain.
Please ban the umbrella plastic bags
Thanks for the consideration.
A group of HK (and world) citizens concerned for the future of the environment.
Link #1 : https://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1819fs01-management-of-plastic-waste-in-selected-places-20181010-e.pdf
Link #2 : https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/biodegradable-bags-arent-better-than-regular-plastic-bags-senate-inquiry-report-finds/news-story/ca75593f78db0da375f67c21682d2687