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On Thursday, 21 March 2019, the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, in collaboration with Business Environment Council, hosted the first European Union Plastic Waste Reduction Workshop. The workshop brought together leading experts from Europe and Hong Kong to enhance cooperation and seek solutions to the problem of plastic waste.
The European Union estimates that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the Earth's oceans. More than 150 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the world’s oceans, and some 4.6-12.7 million tonnes of litter are added to the oceans every year. In Hong Kong, plastic accounts for 20% of the total municipal solid waste in landfills and over 2,000 tons of plastic waste are generated every day. More than 17 million plastic pieces end up in the sea every year.
During the full-day event, 86 business leaders, industry experts, stakeholders, and policy-makers from the Environment Bureau and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department worked together to find alternatives to plastic. The working groups focused on the redesign, reduction, reuse and recycle of plastic products.
The workshop participants recommended a series of concrete measures to effectively tackle plastic waste. Among others, these included:
A) Adopting environmentally friendly alternatives to styrofoam food containers or banning styrofoam altogether.
B) Increasing plastic recovery and recycling rate through improved collection system, Producers’ Responsibility Scheme (PRS), legislation, and consumer and corporate education.
The Head of the EUO, Ambassador Carmen Cano, said:
"The EU organised this workshop to bring together policy makers, innovators and business leaders from Europe and Hong Kong to exchange ideas, and showcase solutions which have already been successfully implemented by businesses. We are moving too slowly to fight environmental problems and we must factor in the cost of inaction. These successful companies show that it is possible to turn plastic waste problems into profitable business opportunities. We hope that Hong Kong will join the EU in adopting regulations toward more sustainable policies that respect the environment."
Mr Simon Ng, Director – Policy & Research of Business Environment Council, said:
"In Hong Kong, we see growing awareness in society to reduce the use of single-use plastic driven by various partnerships between non-governmental organisations and businesses. Support from the Government for these partnerships through policies and incentives are essential. One good example is the recent trend for restaurants, including those in Government premises to stop providing plastic straws. As waste management is a long-standing issue in Hong Kong, we need effective policies and actionable measures to avoid, reduce and reuse plastic waste. Working together with European experts can help Hong Kong with valuable insight and solutions."
About the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao:
The European Union Office is the diplomatic mission of the European Union in Hong Kong and Macao. The Office's task is to promote closer ties with Hong Kong and Macao by working with the government, business, education institutions and civil society.
About Business Environment Council Limited
Business Environment Council Limited (“BEC”) is an independent, charitable membership organisation, established by the business sector in Hong Kong. Since its establishment in 1992, BEC has been at the forefront of promoting environmental excellence by advocating the uptake of clean technologies and practices which reduce waste, conserve resources, prevent pollution and improve corporate environmental and social responsibility. BEC offers sustainable solutions and professional services covering advisory, research, assessment, training and award programmes for government, business and the community, thus enabling environmental protection and contributing to the transition to a low carbon economy.