- For nearly two weeks, Hong Kong's beaches have been inundated with waves of trash—and nobody quite knows why.
- Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department (EPD) estimates that the amount of waste being collected is upward of 10 times more than normal for this season. No official clean-up plan has been announced.
- EPD says that recent floods in mainland China are likely responsible for the waste. Other local organizations suspect the trash is washing in from dumping sites, such as a nearby island.
Local residents have taken it upon themselves to begin cleaning up the bottles and food wrappers, but the scale of this problem may be beyond their abilities. Some conservation groups say the recent weather patterns have just exacerbated an ongoing issue, though EPD released a report last year stating that "marine refuse does not constitute a serious problem." According to the Coastal Watch project, an estimated 15,000 metric tons of marine refuse are collected in Hong Kong each year.
As predicted in a widely circulated report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the amount of ocean plastic is only expected to increase in coming years. The Ocean Conservancy estimates that five countries account for 60% of marine plastics—China, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. While the industry has been involved in efforts to solve this issue, and many clean-up ideas are in the works, more can still be done by these countries to stop this waste from entering oceans in the first place.
Hong Kong has also been in the news lately for environmental issues around e-waste processing. A recent tracking initiative by the nonprofit Basel Action Network found that many devices are being sent to an area called the New Territories that is known for unlicensed recycling facilities.