Hong Kong’s zero-COVID policies create tons of plastic waste

The Strict Hong Kong quarantine the policies are aimed at stopping COVID-19 at the border and preventing its spread in the community. But the policies have been criticized for hurting the economy and negatively affecting the mental health of citizens. Environmentalists say the policies also harm the environment by creating too much waste.

People arriving in Hong Kong will find plastic everywhere in quarantine hotels. The remotes are wrapped in plastic, the pillows are covered in plastic bags, and the food comes with plastic utensils.

Skincare company owner Clementine Vaughan visited the city on April 4. Most visitors to Hong Kong must stay 14 days in quarantine hotels before they can travel freely in the city.

She said Reuters that all quarantine hotel staff wear protective clothing, such as gloves, face coverings and dresses to prevent the spread of the virus.

cellophane-packed,” she said.

Hong Kong throws away more than 2,300 tons of plastic waste a day. The government estimates the recycling the rate is only 11%, which means most of the plastic goes to landfills.

A government spokesperson said officials were aware of a sharp increase in litter since COVID began. The government says it is urging people to be more environmentally friendly.

Edwin Lau is part of the local environmental group The Green Earth. He said Hong Kong’s decisions on COVID showed its lack of environmental awareness.

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

Hong Kong is one of the few places to have a zero COVID policy. It has quarantined tens of thousands of people this year in buildings for COVID-positive people and close contacts.

Quarantine hotels compound the waste problem. Hotel Guests Said Reuters all meals are packed in plastic bags.

Paul Zimmerman is an elected district councilman. He said the facilities themselves are also a waste because they cannot be used long-term, like social housing.

“They were built very quickly… (and don’t) comply with all the particular construction standards that we have in Hong Kong.

I am Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on Reuters reporting.


words in this story

quarantine nm the period of time that a person or animal with or suspected of having a disease is kept away from others to prevent the spread of the disease

glove nm a hand covering that has separate portions for each finger

dress nm loose clothing that covers most of the body

cellophane nm a thin transparent material that is used to wrap things

to recycle v. make something new out of something that has already been used

comply v. do what you have been asked or ordered to do

Bryce K. Locke