Unwrapping Our Future
by China Water Risk 15 October, 2015
We lead a “packaged” lifestyle consuming plastics and paper at every turn. This month, we unwrap water risks in the packaging industry and mull over the challenges of being a responsible consumer – which brands? Plastics or paper? Bottled water or tap? Can we consume responsibly? Weibo was flushed with comments on piles of rubbish left by tourists during the Golden Week. Indeed our recent report “Bottled Water In China: Boom Or Bust?” warns of the rise of plastic walled cities. Already, China’s bottled water industry produces one plastic Jinmao Tower per year. If mainland China consumes bottled water like the average person in Hong Kong, we are looking at an annual addition of four plastic Jinmao Towers. Is that sustainable? What if the rest of Asia followed suit? We appear to be urgently in need of a bottled water revolution. Without proper collection and recycling, our oceans have already become littered with plastic waste. Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance says this is already costing us USD13billion per year and shares with us strategies for a plastics-free ocean. Plastics also litter our lands. The use of plastic mulch films to help save irrigation water has also unfortunately led to soil pollution as these plastic films lay buried in the soil. BASF’s Dirk Staerke expands on damage caused to farmlands in China and how biodegradable films can be a win-win solution for both water and soil. So what can we do? We can start by drinking responsibly. Know what is inside your bottled water – is it “fake water”? Is the labelling of bottled water regulated? What is each bottle’s environmental footprint? Those “in the know” may be less swayed by fancy packaging and more inclined to switch back to the tap. To be a responsible consumer is easier said than done. But should consumption be at all ‘cost’ – be it to our waters, land, air and glaciers? It doesn’t have to be. We are not going to stop consuming but we can change how we do it.
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