1. Production of fluorescent rods
Both plastic fluorescent rods and LED torches will consume energy and liberate carbon dioxide during mass production. Plastic fluorescent rod is made of polyethylene which contain peroxides, ester compounds, dimethyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate and other toxic substances. As well as the negative impact to human body, the release of toxic gases and carbon dioxide will accelerate global warming.
2. Cannot be recycled
Fluorescent rods are chemical wastes. According to the Hong Kong Solid Waste Monitoring Report by Environmental Protection Department, chemical wastes refer to substances generated during the process or activities that contain chemicals materials. The state, quantity, or concentration can cause environmental pollution or harmful to human health. Henry Lu, the senior conservation manager at Green Power pointed out that fluorescent rods are difficult to recycle. The process costs are high and the hard recycling process is dangerous as well.
The survey results of “Mid-Autumn Festival Consumption and Celebration Habits” from the Hong Kong Green Power showed that, nearly 40 million fluorescent rods were discarded by Hong Kong family in 2016. If the recovery process is not handled properly, the toxic chemicals will contaminate the soil and water sources. Fluorescent rod recycling is complex and time-consuming. It also creates “extra” contaminants including disposable rubber gloves, plastic cups that carry chemical liquids and a lot of glass shards. We also need to flush the residual fluorescent agent in the tube with large amount of water. It is definitely incompatible with environmental and economic benefits.
3. Well-known landfill issues
Mr Wong Kam-sing, the Secretary for the Environment pointed out that, “At present, the three landfills in Hong Kong will be filled up very soon. The waste problem becomes a local crisis and the expansion of landfills becomes necessary.”
The three landfills located in Tseung Kwan O, Ta Kwu Ling and Tuen Mun respectively, are estimated to be saturated in 2019. That’s why the government vigorously promoting the landfill extensions and building of incinerator. They applied $9 billion to Legislative Council for substantially expanding the three landfills. At the same time, an incinerator was built in Shik Chu Chau at a cost of 18.2 billion. It is only a temporary solution if we do not try to solve the root causes.
According to the report of Greenpeace, in a large number of plastic wastes, only 9% of them have been successfully recovered. 12% have been incinerated. Nearly 80% will be sent to landfills or drifting to the sea and other natural environments. If the current disposable plastic culture continues, the number of plastic products will increase dramatically to about 12 billion tons until 2050.
4. Marine pollution
When fluorescent rods are sent to landfills, chemical waste may gradually seep out liquid and contaminate the ditches, rivers, groundwater, and oceans nearby. Pollutants that flow into the sea will absorb by tiny fish or other plankton. They are the bottom of the food chain and consolidate the entire marine ecosystem. When these tiny organisms are hunted by larger creatures (such as fish, whales, sharks), poisonous substances will enter their bodies and the concentration of toxins will increase. These toxic substances continue to spread among the food chain and the high concentration will finally affect human beings.
In recent years, the interaction between performers and audiences has become important. Therefore, different fluorescent rods and lighting products have been produced to cheer the atmosphere of the show. However, each of these temporary pleasures adds unnecessary burden to our planet. Tens of thousands of disposable electronic products and plastic waste are sent to the landfills. Consequently, we hope that “Mobiwhere” will reduce these kind of unnecessary wastes and the ambience of the performance will become more enthusiastic and diversified. As well as bring along new business opportunities to the organizers and create their image of corporate environmental responsibility.
From education, source reduction to waste prevention, all people need personal support to achieve environmental protection since everyone’s small steps can already change a lot.