Hong Kong plastic disaster


The Hong Kong plastic disaster refers to a marine pollution event in adjacent waters of Hong Kong in 2012. Typhoon Vicente hit Hong Kong and its adjacent waters on 23 July 2012, causing seven containers, six of which were loaded with polypropylene pellets produced by China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), in the container ship of China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) to fall into and float on the Hong Kong south waters after the storm. Some containers were destroyed by waves, releasing plastic pellets into the ocean, which became marine debris scattering across Hong Kong's south waters and beaches with water flow, resulting in wide environmental and ecological pollution and threatening local fishery.

Plastic pellets were washed up to the shore the day after the storm hit Hong Kong and were first found by members of the NGO, DB Green, of the Discovery Bay. At the beginning, no reports came from the mainstream media of Hong Kong. The clean-up was basically led by DB Green, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Hong Kong) and other NGOs, which spread news through social websites and network media. Those news reports gradually arose strong repercussions from the public and a great number of Hong Kong citizens took clean-up actions on their own initiative.

Nearly a fortnight after the incident, a number of relevant reports began to be seen on Hong Kong newspapers and TV media. Departments of the government of Hong Kong, including the Marine Department (MD) and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department took active cooperation with NGOs in the clean-up, but the government kept such news hidden from the public until 5 August when Secretaries of bureaus began to explain it to the public. Sinopec, owner of the containers of plastic pellets, as well as CSCL, a shipping company, began to work in tandem with the NGOs in the clean-up at the end of July. However, it remained unclear that who should be responsible for the pollution of plastic pellets.


Jun Ray

Assistant Mnaging Editor

Environmental Toxicology and Studies Journal