Source: Reuters
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  • Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies has damaged the country’s environment with the increased use of plastic in quarantine hotels and daily life
  • Environmentalists say the policies contribute to the environmental damage done as it has encouraged excess waste, which the country recorded over 2300 tonnes of plastic waste a day that mostly goes into landfills
  • A government spokesperson says officials are aware of a surge in disposable waste since COVID began, urging people to adopt a green lifestyle as far as possible
  • Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies have been heavily criticised for damaging the economy and mental health of its residents, and now it will add damaging the environment as an unintended consequence

Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies, intended to halt the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the border and within the community may have backfired environmentally.

Arriving in Hong Kong, the first thing disembarking passengers see is plastic everywhere.

In quarantine hotels, there are remote controls wrapped in cellophane, pillows encased in plastic bags and plastic cutlery accompanying every meal.

“Every single one of the staff members [at the quarantine hotel] wears full PPE … the gowns, the gloves, the booties, the hats, and that’s every staff member and on every floor,” said Hong Kong-based skincare entrepreneur Clementine Vaughan, who flew into the city on April 4, told Reuters.

Environmentalists say the policies are also hurting the environment by generating excess waste, which the country recorded over 2,300 tonnes of plastic waste a day that mostly goes into landfills.

Edwin Lau, with local environmental group The Green Earth, said Hong Kong’s approach to COVID reflected its lack of environmental awareness.

“People living in quarantine hotels, they are not confirmed cases,” Lau said, urging the government to allow the recycling or reuse of plastics from quarantine facilities.

A government spokesperson said officials were aware of a surge in disposable waste since COVID began, urging people to adopt a green lifestyle as far as possible.

Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies have been heavily criticised for damaging the economy and mental health of its residents, and now it will add damaging the environment as an unintended consequence.

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