A Plastic Ocean
Speaking of marine plastic pollution disaster, you may think of the incident when Typhoon Vicente hit Hong Kong in 2012 – a few cargos loaded polypropylene pellets fell off from the ship to the sea and spilt tons of pellets onto our beaches and over the southern waters of Hong Kong. It has brought large threats to the marine life that different organizations hosted clean-up campaigns to alleviate the ecological dilemma. Typhoo Hato and Pakhar of 2017 and Mangkhut of 2018 hit Hong Kong, they had brought plastic litter, most of them are Styrofoam, from Ocean to land. Citizen cleaned up and brought these Styrofoam to Environmental Organization spontaneously. In fact, in many countries, plastic debris leaks into the ocean from time to time due to human activities or poorly designed landfills. According to UN Environment, over 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean every year. The situation is extremely worrying.
Not only will the plastic litter affects the marine landscape, but also cause huge damages to the marine ecology. UN Environment estimates that by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic from the ocean and thus threatens the food chain. The total weight of plastic litter in the ocean will be greater than that of fishes. The ocean will ultimately become a grave of plastics.
Although the use of plastics has brought great convenience to our daily lives, the plastic pollution problem is getting worse and being shifted from the land to the ocean. As everyone knows, it takes at least hundreds of years for plastic to be decomposed, which implicates that 80% of the ocean litter – plastics will remain and accumulate in the ocean for few centuries. It is crucial to take immediate actions to tackle this problem.
As a Hongkoner, you may wonder, ‘How ocean litter relates to me?’ The ocean differs to the land that water is always drifted by currents and climate. The ocean litter floats to different coastal areas all around the world. As a coastal city, Hong Kong definitely cannot be immune. If the situation continues to worsen, we have no choice but to bare the irreversible consequences of having no more beautiful beaches. All seafood we have may be polluted by plastics, microbeads and toxins too.
To avoid these consequences, the UN Environment has launched the ‘Clean Seas Campaign’ in ‘World Ocean Summit 2017’, encouraging citizens and retailers to reduce single-use of plastic disposables and plastic packaging. The programme does not limit to national level, but also welcome support from business enterprises and individual consumers. For example, DELL, a multinational computer company, is planning to use recovered ocean plastics for packaging in response to the Campaign.
As a member of the global village, we should fully support the Campaign by committing to reduce the use of disposable plastic items, such as straws, bags, cutleries, beverage bottles and so on. To step forward, we can gather consumers’ power to urge the manufacturers to take their own responsibilities for the environment. If we take the initiatives to do so, even we Hongkongers can contribute to bring new hopes to the future of the ocean.