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16 June
Sunday

Asia

Hong Kong is surrounded by garbage

The seas around Hong Kong are full of microplastics

Photo: SCMP

/NOVOSTIVL/ The average concentration of tiny plastic particles in Hong Kong’s waters has seen an 11-fold increase in a span of just three years, according to one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted in the city on the topic. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post.

Greenpeace East Asia and researchers from Education University said the results reflected the "prevalent use of plastic packaging" in Hong Kong.

And they believed most of this plastic pollution was produced locally.

"It is common to see food items wrapped in multiple layers of unnecessary plastic packaging," said Greenpeace campaigner Chan Hall-sion, adding that such lightweight items were harder to recover and had less outlets for recycling.

Once in the sea, the plastics get weathered down and break down into microplastic debris which can be ingested by marine organisms, deforming the digestive systems of fish, Chan said.

Toxic contaminants could also latch on to these particles, ending up in the food chain, ultimately in the seafood humans eat.

From an average concentration of 0.256 pieces of microplastic – small fragments generally less than 5mm in size – per cubic metre of water measured in 2015, the levels last year stood at 3.041 pieces per cubic metre, a difference of 11 times, the study found.

This was the result of analysis from water samples taken at 20 coastal locations in the territory’s western and eastern waters. Specialised mesh nets were used to trawl the sea surface for plastic debris.

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