New campaign urges everyone to stop using single-use plastic items to help restore our marine ecosystem
Plastic bottled water, disposable cutlery, polystyrene meal boxes…are common single-use plastic items in our daily life. These kinds of disposable plastics products can enter the sea in many ways, e.g. through storm drains and waterways, and become marine litter. The results of Coastal Watch project’s most recent surveys show that a large proportion of marine litter found on our shores is generated locally in Hong Kong, and nearly 75 per cent of this litter is made up of single-use plastic items like plastic bottles and disposable cutlery. Although both the government and the public have recently become more aware of the seriousness of our marine litter problem, the debris continues to relentlessly pile up – the government collects an average of 15,000 tonnes of it annually, while comparatively remote places such as sea caves and underwater areas are seriously impacted by the debris but receive only ad-hoc cleaning. Hong Kong’s plastic marine litter problem demands immediate action from all sectors of society.
To help raise awareness and create a solution, Coastal Watch is launching the “Knock Plastic out of the Ocean” campaign in August and September to encourage citizens to change their consumption habits through a promise to reduce their use of these five single-use plastic items: plastic bags, plastic cutlery, polystyrene meal boxes, straws and bottled water. We hope to collect signatures from at least 5,000 citizens and 100 organizations, getting people and companies across Hong Kong to pledge to say “no” to single-use plastic. The ultimate aims of the campaign are to urge the government to introduce a producer responsibility scheme for single-use plastic products; and to encourage the business sector to uphold their responsibilities by using environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastic and implementing the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – for their products.
The ground-breaking Coastal Watch project has been running since June 2014. Through marine litter surveys, ecological surveys and coastal clean-up activities, Coastal Watch is aiming to help the government formulate effective long-term solutions to our persistent marine litter problem.
“In recent years, we have encountered sea turtles whose inner organs are filled with plastic litter. We have also found a myriad of fish bite marks on litter items like single-use plastic bottles and disposable packaging. This plastic litter not only threatens marine organisms and habitats; if plastic enters the food chain, humans will eventually suffer as well. We sincerely hope that everyone across Hong Kong – individuals, companies and organizations – will sign this pledge and start reducing waste at source right away by saying a firm ‘no’ to plastic” commented Patrick Yeung, Coastal Watch’s project manager.
In October, the Coastal Watch project will announce the campaign’s final pledge number and the latest result of Hong Kong’s marine litter and ecological surveys. We will also submit citizens’ wishes and our survey report to the government. We urge everyone in Hong Kong to support the campaign and help save the marine life from litter – join us and say ‘no’ to disposable plastics and say ‘yes’ to marine life! Also – don’t forget to click on the website and make a pledge now!
Click here to learn more about the pledge: coastalwatch.hk/en/plasticpledge