Asia Minute: Hong Kong’s Trashed Beaches

Jul 14, 2016

Credit Wikipedia Commons

Beach cleanups are frequent weekend activities around the islands…organized by groups from Surfriders to Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i. But in Hong Kong, beach cleanups have recently reached a new level. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

It’s been a long time since swimming in Hong Kong harbor was a good idea…even in the movies.  It was more than 60 years ago that actor William Holden jumped in those waters in Hollywood’s version of leisurely swimming off the island.Other spots in Hong Kong usually are popular with swimmers—from historic Stanley Beach to Lantau Island.

But these days, Hong Kong’s beaches are swamped with trash.  The government’s Environmental Protection Department estimates the amount of waste being collected on beaches this summer is six to ten times the usual amount.

This week, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive was among those working on beach cleanup.  Local television cameras came along as CY Leung led a 60-person effort that government officials say cleared a ton and a half of garbage in about thirty minutes.  Other volunteer groups are continuing to organize cleanups at various beaches around the area.

City officials blame the flow of garbage on recent heavy rains and flooding in southern China…which has swept waste down river to Hong Kong.  Environmental activists say while that’s part of the problem, local pollution is not helping….including Hong Kong consumers, who, according to international comparisons, are among the global leaders in per capita production of trash.