Hong Kong government vending machines to ditch small water bottles in battle against plastic waste

Vending machines at government premises will stop selling water in bottles of one litre or less starting from early next year, it emerged on Thursday, as part of a bid to clamp down on unnecessary plastic waste.
The new policy will cover all government-run sports complexes, performance venues, offices, urban parks, country parks, car parks, transport interchanges and ferry piers, according to the Environment Bureau.
The government is committed to setting a ‘green’ example in promoting waste reduction at source Exemptions will also be made for “special circumstances” such as “ad hoc operations, prolonged outdoor works or emergency situations” where bottled water would be provided to meet public service or operational needs, according to a spokesman.
“Having said that, bureaus and departments should continue to encourage their staff as far as practicable to refrain from using plastic bottled water in the course of discharging their official duties,” a bureau spokesman added.
In July, the University of Hong Kong banned the sale of bottled water measuring one litre or less at shops, restaurants, offices and vending machines.
Local environmental group The Green Earth estimated that since 2008 Hongkongers had thrown away more than 12 billion plastic bottles, which if placed end to end would circle the globe 58 times.
Hahn Chu Hon-keung, its director of environmental advocacy, welcomed the new policy, but said it should have come long ago.
“People don’t like bringing their own water bottles because they’re heavy when full.
If you put dispensers in the right locations, they won’t have to fill them up that often,” Chu said.
He said the next step in developing such a culture was for shopping mall and railway operators to follow suit.

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