Rainy season adds to Hong Kong's plastic waste woes

HONG KONG - While Hong Kongers lament the inconvenience brought about by the rain, environmentalists here are grappling with another problem: the sheer amount of disposable umbrella bags made of plastic.

The city may end up with as many as 41 million of the long, transparent bags that are used to hold dripping brollies during the rainy season from June to September, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Wednesday (Aug 9).

This has prompted a green group to call for alternatives that are friendly to the environment.

The Greeners Action found that in the past month, about 90 per cent of the 53 malls, commercial buildings and government facilities that it monitored gave out the plastic bags when it rained. This was to keep the floor dry and prevent falls, SCMP reported.

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"People use these bags only when they enter the property and they discard them when they leave. Time of use is short but the waste they generate is serious," Greeners Action's assistant project manager Yip Chui Man told SCMP.

Alternatives that have been floated included automatic wet umbrella dryers, umbrella racks, floor mats, and recycling bins for the plastic bags.

Of the 3.7 million tonnes of municipal waste discarded in landfills in 2015, 800,000 tonnes were plastic - an increase of 8.9 per cent from the previous year, SCMP reported, quoting the latest available Environmental Protection Department numbers.