Activists discuss ban on single-use plastic with Gov’t

Local activists told Lusa today (Tuesday) that they have discussed with the Government the ban on single-use plastic, recycling and maritime pollution in a city with one of the largest ‘per capita’ waste productions in the world.

The Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) Director, Raymond Tam, met last Thursday with members of environmental associations from the Green Student Union, Macau for Waste Reduction, Macau ECOnscious and the Novo Macau Association, in a meeting that served to “monitor” the environmental protection work that is being done, the founder of Macau ECOnscious, Gilberto Camacho, told Lusa.

Meanwhile, Macau activist and founder of Macau Waste Reduction, Annie Lao, said that “resolving the deterioration of the environment can no longer wait and the Government needs to take immediate action”.

“I still feel disappointed with the slow work done by the Government in terms of limiting the use of plastics for single use in the city, such as in supermarkets”, she stressed.

In the most recent environmental report for 2019, the authorities pointed out that “the quantities of solid urban waste, of municipal solid waste discharged ‘per capita’, of construction material waste increased to varying degrees compared to 2018”.

The report indicated that 550,249 tonnes of solid urban waste were discarded in Macau, an increase of 5.3 per cent when compared to 2018.

In 2019, the daily ‘per capita’ amount of urban solid waste discarded was 2.24 kilograms, 3.2 per cent more than in the previous year, in a territory with about 650 thousand inhabitants. Last year, Macau received almost 40 million visitors.

Even so, according to the same report, “in addition to a decrease in the amount of paper collected in 2019, there were increases in varying degrees in the amounts of food waste, plastic, metals and glass collected”. Only considering plastic, the authorities recycled another 21.7 per cent more when compared to 2018.

“DSPA is doing ‘something’, but it is not enough and we are not satisfied,” said Annie Lao.

As of November 2019, the authorities imposed the payment of MOP1 for a single-use plastic bag, an old struggle by Gilberto Camacho, who for several years tried to pressure the Macau authorities to impose this rule.

This idea started after a trip to Portugal in 2014, where he found that supermarkets charged people 10 cents for each plastic bag, explained the activist.

During the meeting, according to Gilberto Camacho, the authorities said they intend to move forward with measures to combat take away food packaging, which are very popular in Macau, for the year.

The idea is to replace these boxes with a biodegradable material, he explained.

Also present at the meeting was the New Macau Association, which said in a statement that the DSPA Director said that the authorities have been studying a possible ban on the import of polystyrene packaging for 2021.

“Since the styrofoam containers are still being used to contain fresh and live seafood imported from the [Chinese] continent, DSPA will cooperate with the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) to promote the reuse of those styrofoam containers until adequate alternatives are available in the market”, the association stated in note.