Plastic Bags Length as Avenue of Stars Use Only for 10s

The consumption of plastic bags has been reduced after the implementation of Environmental Levy Scheme. However, the amount used inHong Kongis still significantly higher than other cities.Hong Kongcitizens rely heavily on plastic bags. The commercial sector has long tried to achieve both its advantage of convenience and the essential principle of environmental conservation. As a result, shopping bags commonly known as ‘environmental-friendly bags’, and degradable plastic bags gradually replace the ordinary plastic bags. Are these replacement really helps save our environment?

We, Green Sense, conducted a survey on January this year, interviewing 600 citizens. The survey was about their knowledge of plastic bags and habit of use. We found that 51.6% interviewees did not know what material a plastic bag is made of. And only if a plastic bag with additive for degradation is easier recognized (20.2%). Only 6.1% interviewees developed a habit to recycle plastic bags. As many as 69.2% interviewees cannot recognize plastic codes for recycling.

We, Green Sense, propose a environmentally friendly way in using plastic bags:

Reduce the use of plastic bags -> Reuse -> Recycle (instead of discard but degradable)

It is because original materials can be better used under recycling system. The material structure of a plastic bag changes less but provide another product for use.

Many citizens thought degradable plastic bags do little harm to our environment. However, it is not true. Two types of degradable plastic bags are commonly used nowadays inHong Kong. The first is plastic bags with additive for degradation. They are products of petroleum. With additive, the bags degraded when react with oxygen or ultraviolet rays. Another is biodegradable since it is made of materials extracted from plants, like corn.

Additive for Degradation Only Make Bags Pieces

Professor Chan King-ming from Biochemistry Department of The Chinese University ofHong Kongexplained, plastic bags which can be oxidized or made of photo-degradable materials will become pieces only. The degradation does not change the structure of the plastic bags. Moreover, small pieces are more likely to be eaten by wild animals.

Hard to Have Biodegradation in Landfills

Urban waste inHong Kongis normally treated in landfills. Professor Chan King-ming pointed out, the condition in landfills is not suitable for biodegradation. The plastic bags are likely to remain for tens of years. If treated in landfill, it can hardly make any difference between ordinary plastic bags and biodegradable plastic bags in terms of the environmental consequence.

Plastics with Additive Cannot Be Recycled

We have visited recycling companies and it is said that the above-mentioned two types of degradable plastic bags are hardly accepted for recycling. It is because plastics having additive for degradation are generally conceived as having unstable quality. Also, biodegradable plastic bags cannot not be recycled as it is made of non-plastic materials. If this kind of plastic bags is mistakenly put into recycling box, recycling companies have to take extra steps to distinguish and discard them. Otherwise, the quality of the recycled plastics will be adversely affected.

We suggest retailers adopt plastic bags that can be recycled and to have the words “Recycle This Bag After Reuse” printed. Citizens should start to distinguish if their plastic bags are suitable for recycling. Bags unsuitable for recycling should be put out into recycling box.

Chain of Plastic Bags as Long as Avenue of Stars Only Used for 10s

In order to enhance citizens’ knowledge of plastic bags and better ways of handling them, we orgainised a carnival at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza today (21st March). There will be games pooths, display of artwork and classes for DIYs about plastic bags.

The limelight of our carnival will be the chain of plastic bags containing about 2,500 various plastic bags. The chain will be connected on the Avenue of Stars. The plastic bags are collected from different housing estate early this year. However, such a large amount of plastic bags can only able to serve Hong Kong citizens for 3 seconds provided that the daily consumption is 3 plastic bags per day in Hong Kong.

* All words and expressions should be construed according to the press release in Chinese.