Health & Environment

Hong Kong's zero waste community leaders addressed the importance of switching to waste-free events

Dozens of events as talks, concerts, games are held every day in Hong Kong and most of them result in tonnes of waste including plastic cups, plates, and cutleries because event organisers provide their attendees with everything from tissues to single-use pens and notebooks.

Although "green events" are recently becoming popular, event hosts usually sort the waste and provide recycling bins only. It is not effective because most of the event participants don’t rinse or empty plastic containers before throwing them to waste-separation bins.

Aigul Safiullina, a co-founder of Zero Waste Life, a non-governmental organisation aimed to promote and educate sustainable lifestyle by coaching and providing public with useful sources, thinks that the general public, especially event hosts should embrace a more responsible lifestyle by not only sorting the waste from events and providing recycling bins, but also taking a step further to plan the event ahead and reduce the source of waste.

"There are only three types of recyclable plastics, by offering recycling bins is not enough and unreasonable," she said during the talk, "Taking small steps to achieve a zero-waste life in Hong Kong" conducted by the panel of Hong Kong’s zero-waste community leaders, last Wednesday.

Paola Cortese, a certified Climate Reality Leader suggested the ways to organise a sustainable event. She said that waste reduction can be achieved through smart planning at the start which would promote a waste-free lifestyle and raise the awareness of Hong Kong’s waste problem.

"Small steps could start from reusing banners and decorations. Instead of buying, it would be more environmentally friendly to borrow or to loan them," said Ms. Cortese.

She also suggested using e-invitations instead of printed cards. Even though the e-invitation cards or tickets are used by the majority of event organisers, attendees are usually asked to print them prior to arrival.   

The other way to reduce waste is simply by stopping the provision of plastic disposables at events and asking visitors to bring their own reusable lunch boxes, cutleries, bottles and even straws.

Fanny Moritz, the founder of online shop NO!W No Waste, which offers a wide variety of reusable and environmentally friendly products in Hong Kong, thinks that using own reusables is also a good way to promote waste-free life.

"It’s common to bring own water bottle but using own metal straw at events makes people around me curious about it. They usually ask me the benefits of using a metal straw and it’s a great way to start a conversation," she said laughing.

When it comes to post-event measures that could be taken after an event, the rubbish could be collected and decomposed at community composting and organics drop-off sites.

"Composting is a green solution to the waste problem in Hong Kong, that’s why providing composting bins along with traditional recycling bins is important," said Tamsin Thornburrow, the founder of Live Zero, Hong Kong’s first zero-waste store located in Sai Ying Pun.

There are various composting sites in Hong Kong, not only chemical and but also biological, such as Sha Ling Livestock Waste Composting Plant (SLCP) and Animal Waste Composting Plant (AWCP), where organic technologies are used to degrade the waste.

The representatives of Hong Kong’s zero-waste community suggested that the authorities should devise official and effective guidelines for those who want to host "green events" and that the organisers of some major festivals should be obliged to make their events "greener".

"These are the few steps, but by doing so, we can promote a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. And for those who want to hold sustainable events we will be glad to help and equip them with useful information and guidelines," said Ms. Cortese.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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