'Hong Kong Supermarkets Have A Plastic Addiction'

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2019-07-11 HKT 15:32

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  • 'Hong Kong supermarkets have a plastic addiction'

From lemons to cucumbers and bananas, almost everything comes wrapped in plastic. Even unhusked coconuts are not spared.

Some supermarkets in Hong Kong have a "plastic addiction", says Greeners Action, an environmental group.

They looked at how 10 fruits and vegetables are packed at eight supermarket chains. What they found largely tallied with a similar survey they did back in 2013; supermarkets are over-packaging and unnecessarily wrapping up their fresh produce, and there are hardly any exceptions.

"Apples, kiwis.. you can see they are all in plastic wraps, cling film, plastic cases and they even have a polyform on the top of an apple," said Vicki Wong, a senior project officer with Greeners Action as she surveyed the fruit and vegetable section of a local supermarket.

Wong said this kind of wrapping also stops customers from feeling or smelling the produce. This, she said, forces customers to buy some decayed ones too when they come in multiple packs.

Topping Greeners Action's list of the worst offenders in 2013 and this year were Yata supermarkets. Just ahead of Taste and Wellcome. The best performer among the eight chains was Kai Bo Food Supermarket, where customers can pick up loose fruit and vegetables.

Responding to RTHK's enquiries, Yata supermarkets says it understands this is an issue of increasing public concern, and they are looking to reduce or eliminate packaging without compromising the safety or quality of their products. The supermarket says they're reviewing their display policies, and hope this will be completed by the end of the year.

AS Watson, which owns the Taste and ParknShop chain of supermarkets, said they're now implementing plastic-reduction trial measures at three of their stories at local universities. They said they'll review the trial scheme and consider extending it to more stores.

Wellcome says it's taking steps to reduce the use of plastic in their stores. It says it's instructing staff to pack fruits and vegetables to actual needs, and is working closely with suppliers to use less and waste less.

Wong said Hong Kong could follow overseas examples, where plastic-free aisles have proven popular with customers and boosted sales. She said Kai Bo has already shown this here.

Greeners Action said it's important for the supermarkets to tackle this problem now, so that customers aren't burdened with having to dispose of unnecessary packaging when a plan to start charging for the disposal of household waste kicks in.

The group said the latest data suggests Hong Kong throws away some 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day.

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Last updated: 2019-07-11 HKT 19:10