Asian eco show exposes apathy
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Asian eco show exposes apathy

The recent Eco Expo Asia held in Hong Kong highlighted a few harsh realities about green issues in Asia. While the show boasted over 200 exhibitors, 60% more participants than last year, apart from the build-up hype to attract companies and people, absolutely nothing has been written about the show itself.

Bloggers have been silent and regional papers have ignored it.

Is there simply apathy among the public, corporate Asia and government in all things green? The exhibition was opened Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, who told the great and good gathered, “Sustainability is high on our agenda”.

He could, of course, point to the plastic bag charge introduced over the summer. So no longer will I be given a packet of chewing gum in a plastic bag (sorry to Singaporeans who can’t even get the gum).

It was an effort applauded by all, reducing the 23 million plastic bags used daily or three bags per person. Well done Mr Yau, but in 1993 it was 14 million bags a day – two per person. Like the drama of mobile phone rechargers, in last week’s blog, one must ask why it has taken over a decade and a half for anything to be done. It’s not exactly an expensive or difficult policy to introduce, especially in Hong Kong. Also worrying is that the public have got worse over the years rather than more aware of environmental issues.

What’s worse is that the one piece of coverage given to the show came from ‘Plastic’s News’ which reported that Hong Kong-based injection moulder and recycler Fukutomi Co saw Chinese companies switch off when the green credentials of its corn-based polylactic acid packaging were mentioned. It was a view reflected by PET recycler Forleda Eco-Services Co.

So where does this leave that other little gem in Mr Yau’s speech, the “Green Pearl River Delta Quality Living Area”? Agreed by authorities in Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong, can one have much confidence in the participants living up to green credentials? The track record is not enviable. Macau, once noted for its charm and architecture, now lies under millions of tonnes of casino and apartment developments, beating Las Vegas as the world’s gambling centre. All in less than a decade.

Guangdong, the home of foul factory emissions that frequently leave people in Hong Kong rubbing their irritated eyes and certainly defeats anyone’s efforts at giving up cigarettes.

And then there is Hong Kong whose citizens own the majority of the Guangdong factories that pollute the territory and takes a decade to control the plastic bag fixation.

One can’t help feeling pessimistic, especially with the news on Sunday which saw a ship carrying 100 tonnes of hydrochloric acid sink in China’s Yangtze river.