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Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.

A 'Greener' Moon Festival, A 'Greener' Tomorrow

All Hongkongers who have the well-being of their future generations at heart ought to throw their weight behind the "green Mid-Autumn Festival" concept, according to an editorial published in Wen Wei Po yesterday. Full text follows:

In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival has become a time of appalling wastage with people generating large amounts of garbage.

To promote green awareness, this year the Environmental Protection Department and the catering sector will give awards to shoppers who return used mooncake tins with purchase coupons so as to allow the city to enjoy a "green Mid-Autumn Festival" as well.

We hereby call upon the government, the people and mooncake manufacturers and retailers to take action to support and promote the "green Mid-Autumn Festival" concept in order to benefit our future generations.

Since ancient times, people have not only viewed the festival as a symbol of family reunion, but derived from it the hope of eternal bliss. In fact, humanity shares the same fate with the environment. If we overlook the damage done by consumerism to our surroundings, what our posterity may see under a clear and bright moon is depleted natural resources and spoiled habitats, and the hope of eternal bliss will evaporate.

Unfortunately, local consumer activities during the festival have neglected this danger.

Every year, Hong Kong people throw away more than three million mooncake tins that weigh as much as 750 tons and stand as high as 414 Bank of China buildings when piled on top of one another. Last year, Hongkongers discarded 1.75 million mooncakes and the same amount of plastic lanterns. All this garbage has exerted heavy pressure on the territory's three landfills, which are expected to overbrim in less than 10 years. A new landfill takes 15 years to build and there is no more room in Hong Kong to build one anyway.

We believe that other than encouraging people to return their used mooncake tins, the "green Mid-Autumn Festival" campaign should be extended in scope.

On the one hand, manufacturers of mooncakes and plastic lanterns should minimize packing and install replaceable components respectively during production. On the other hand, members of the public must, before purchasing festive items, think carefully what they really need and refrain from buying overpackaged products or buying more than they need, resulting in wastage and environmental pollution.

Besides, the government should not delay enacting the law that regulates product packaging. Mooncakes on sale in Hong Kong usually come with a plastic bag, the tin, individual packages, plastic knives and forks as well as the plastic inner base. There may sometimes be as many as eight layers of packaging.

This year alone, there will be four million mooncake tins and close to 60 million packaging items scrapped. Overpacking may help the sale of mooncakes, but the wastage involved and the damage to the environment is enormous.

To solve this problem, the packaging legislation is a permanent solution.

A two-pronged approach, it not only requires manufacturers to pay for the cost of environmental protection in using the packaging materials - another form of green tax - it also asks for the government's co-operation in promoting the recycling of these materials. It will serve the dual purposes of diminishing the production of garbage and promoting the recycling of packaging materials.

In Europe, these kinds of laws have achieved an overall recycling rate of 49 percent of packaging materials in 20 countries. As a city of high spending, Hong Kong has no reason to lag behind in the legislation in this respect.

(China Daily September 28, 2004)

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