Large quantities of discarded plastic bags for wet umbrellas are adding pressure to the environment, according to a concern group.
Greeners Action visited 35 shopping malls and commercial buildings, as well as 18 government facilities, including hospitals, on July 17 and 18 when the amber rainstorm signal and thunderstorm warning were in force, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
It found that 94 percent of the malls and commercial buildings provided plastic umbrella bags to visitors, up 25 percentage points from a similar survey in 2009.
About 6.5 percent proactively offered the bags.
About seven in 10 government facilities also had plastic bags ready for use.
Surveyors from the group, who stayed for 45 minutes in each mall, said malls distributed one bag per minute on average, with HomeSquare in Sha Tin topping the others by giving away 298 during the period, or more than six per minute.
As for government facilities, Prince of Wales Hospital led the others with 89 giveaway umbrella bags in 45 minutes.
The group estimated that about 14 million bags would be used in the rainy season if about 500 malls and 300 government facilities in the city distributed one bag per minute. Most of them end up being discarded.
Yip Chui-man, assistant project manager of the environmental group, said there are other ways to keep floors dry than using the bags.
She said property management companies should use umbrella dryers and lay embedded carpets, or add more recycle bins for plastic bags.
Yip called on the public to make it a habit to dry their umbrellas before entering the malls and reuse the umbrella bags.
Bevis Leung Wai-shing, executive director of Urban Group, which manages more than 10 malls in Hong Kong, said the umbrella bag culture began about 20 years ago and has been helpful in keeping the malls clean and dry.
He said the time is not ripe to reduce umbrella bags because people’s environmental consciousness is still not mature enough. Enhancing it requires more efforts by the government and environmental groups.
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