Greenpeace voices alarm at microplastics in streams

Environmental group, Greenpeace, has expressed alarm at finding microplastics in half of the eight popular countryside streams it tested, saying the water there should be clear of pollutants as there is no industry nearby.

“Even finding one microplastic particle in our sample, it is unbelievable”, campaigner Leanne Tam said. “We didn’t expect to see any microplastics in our sample, because in our countryside… there are no industrial or commercial activities.”

Greenpeace said 24 pieces of polypropylene (PP) were found in a litre of water collected from Tai Po Ng Tung Chai and Tai Cho Stream at Tai Mo Shan.

PP is commonly found in disposable packaging, tableware products and boxes.

Tam suspects the surge in local visitors to the countryside during the pandemic could be to blame.

After finding tainted samples in a Tai Tam waterfall, the group said particles might pollute drinking water, if the water flows into a reservoir – or enter the food chain, through animals or micro-organisms.

Tam called on the Water Supplies Department to conduct regular tests in Hong Kong’s 17 reservoirs for microplastics.

According to its website, the department tests only for the presence of metals, chlorine, or the bacteria E.coli.

The WSD told RTHK that testing for microplastics was not included in the current Hong Kong Drinking Water Standards, but that it was added to an observation list on April 22 this year.

It said it would closely monitor related international scientific research and developments.

However, Tam said she thought corporate entities and supermarkets should bear most of the responsibility.

“They are providing goods for what we buy, what we use every day. They can reduce plastic packaging, and give options to sell without any packaging,” she said.