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Say no to single-use plastics!

Plastic products such as plastic bags and PET bottles provide convenience for people’s daily necessities, and they also cause white pollution for thousands of years. According to United Nations statistics, about 8 million to 13 million tons of plastic are thrown into the sea every year. If we do not implement recycling or reduce production, there will be more marine plastics than fish by 2050.

It’s no secret that plastic will also enter the human food chain and the adverse impact on human is often underrated. 80% of the waste that ends up in the ocean comes from land-based activities such as landfills, industries, storm drains, tourism and the remaining 20% comes from ocean-based activities like cruise ships, fishing and ferries. Once plastic flows into the natural environment, it will hardly disappear completely. They will be broken into small pieces by sunlight and ocean currents, and even be ingested by fish and shellfish and enter the food chain.

During COVID-19, the use of disposable plastics has drastically increase due to the popularity for online shopping and meal ordering services. One survey conducted by Singapore showed that during the two-month lockdown period, Singaporeans generated 1,334 tons of plastic waste through online purchases and food delivery, equivalent to the weight of 92 double-decker buses. There are several recommendations to cut down plastic waste based on its findings. For example, food delivery businesses to set “no cutlery” and use paper-based packaging for takeaway option.

In Hong Kong, people are accustomed to bring their own reusable grocery bag for shopping, this is partly due to a change in behavior ever since the city has introduced a plastic shopping bag levy. This June, an eco-friendly company named Distinctive Action has launched an 'invisible bag', a vessel that resembles a plastic bag, yet is completely water-soluble, meaning it can be dissolved in water after being used – in contrast to a plastic bag that takes decades to naturally degrade. If it falls into nature unfortunately, invisible bag will slowly decompose in cold water or room temperature water.

According to the European unified standard EN 13432, the product can be processed in an industrial composting plant, and at least 90% of the organic matter is converted into carbon dioxide at 180 Celsius. According to the Japanese biodegradable plastic, the product needs to be degraded by microorganisms into carbon dioxide and water as the final product, and the final product of carbon dioxide and water can be recycled in nature. Therefore, an invisible bag can be degraded in industrial compost plants, household compost, and even soil.

Moreover, the more effective way is stop buying a water bottle. There are millions of tons of plastic are used to produce billions of plastic water bottles each year. In Hong Kong, there’s a “water for free” mobile app that shows the locations of public water fountains and dispensers throughout the island. It is an effort to reduce environmental damage caused by single-use plastic bottles.

According to safety concern, many Asia countries’ hotels still provide complimentary water, mostly in plastic bottles. Hopefully, some countries will start to make more efforts on sustainability. In Thailand, some hotel use two water generators suck in vapor from the air under sweltering heat, then condenses into water when it hits cold coils. The water drips into tanks, making 4,000 liters a day. After filtering and adding minerals, it is put into reusable glass bottles. The water-from-air technology uses 78% less energy than producing standard bottled water, has a lower carbon footprint, and is about a third cheaper. This move can help to cut down the use of plastic bottles.

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