We're progressing well in the destruction of the planet. This week I learnt Hong Kong people chuck away 5.2 million plastic bottles a day. Staggering. Although I question how that figure was calculated. Whenever a storm hits Hong Kong, the amount of rubbish washed up onto the beaches is immense.
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Already, plastic is being eaten by the very animals we eat too. The EU has decided not to tax on plastic products but to spend money on education instead.
When Hong Kong introduced a charge for plastic bags, this forced shoppers to change how they shopped. The same has to be done again for plastic bottles or at least an incentive to encourage recycling.
In Germany, I saw a vending machine in a supermarket. Empty glass bottles were fed in at the top and ground up. The incentive was a voucher to spend in the supermarket. The more bottles fed in, the higher the voucher amount. The glass granules were collected, melted and remade into bottles. Super efficient.
Hong Kong's approach to recycling is mediocre at best. There are collection bins for plastic, paper and aluminium but not glass. There is no separation or categorisation of household waste as is common in other countries. There's no incentive for people to reduce plastic waste at all.
I don't know the answer. But the oceans are sea fills for plastic and other rubbish. Our household waste ends up in landfills. A packaging tax of 50 cents at the supermarket till for every non-recyclable plastic item might work. This will help force a change in shopping habits; consumers will be forced, in other words, to pay the manufacturers for using plastic packaging.
Pretty soon, people will stop buying items wrapped in excessive or polluting plastic wrapping and manufacturers will be forced to rethink. Sounds too far-fetched.
The tax collected would not go into the HK Government's general account (like the tax on plastic bags) but used to fund recycling initiatives, education, etc. Manufacturers will be forced to develop packaging more friendly to the environment. Households will be offered an incentive to recycle waste (e.g. the German case). Will never happen.
Education might fix the problem for future generations - I very much doubt it - yet people should realise it's a problem for us all. The amount of plastic discarded every day is staggering. The plastic lakes found in oceans should sicken us all and force action.
The HK Government is removing all the bins in the country parks to force people to take their rubbish home with them. I'm hopeful this will work. I don't have an answer but action needs to be taken. Fast.
Plastic Reading::The Guardian - EU rules out tax on plastic products to reduce waste Independent - David Attenborough says world must act now on plastic after witnessing its impacts filming Blue Planet II Mail Online - A sea of plastic: Shocking images show how bottles, bags and rubbish are choking our oceans
Reuters - China ban on waste imports leads to piles of paper abroad, surging prices in China South China Morning Post - Hong Kong throws away 5.2 million bottles every single day – is it time to ban sale of the plastic disposables?