Peng Chau – the good, the bad, the ugly

Who knew there were so many beaches on Peng Chau?  I was so pleasantly surprised at the number of stunning isolated beaches on this little Island today.  I walked to the back of the island and stood by myself looking out at a great view of Hong Kong Island, my own private beach overlooking one of the most interesting & densely populated cities in the world!

The sad thing was when I turned around and looked into the treeline, my heart sank.  There was styrofoam, plastic, lids, toys, bottles, you name it it was there all mixed in with thousands of pellets.  Sadly much of this rubbish has been here a very long time.  Tree roots have grown through wedges of styrofoam and bottles have become completely entangled.  Large plastic pieces have become parts of the tree unable to be removed.  It is a dreadful scourge on the beach.

There weren’t a lot of nurdles on the beach sand but once you started looking into the piles of styrofoam and trash you could see there were actually thousands of nurdles mixed in with the rubbish and many had obviously been there for a very long time.  They infiltrated the rubbish pile right down to the layer of dirt.  Hong Kong has been concentrating on fresh nurdles but here was a very dirty little secret being uncovered.  Why was there such a high concentration of old nurdles here?

Now the volunteers all came to the beach to help pick up the nurdles.  Many for the first time too.  It was interesting for me to speak with them and see their reaction to this.  Some got it; the connection between the environmental/health hazard of the plastic nurdles and the huge environmental hazard of this pile of waste.  The shock on their faces as they scooped and dug and removed bag after bag of this trash was palpable.   There were lots of comments about the need to remove this from the beaches as well, with or without an infestation of nurdles.

Today on this beach only well over 50 people came to help clear this horrendous patch.  When I left mid afternoon, many more people were coming and we had already collected at least 40 bags full.  Everyone worked hard and once progress was made, you could really see the difference from all the effort.  The pellet spill is proving to be a massive wake up call on marine pollution in general.  Seeing these huge deposits of our waste on these remote beaches is opening a lot of people’s eyes to the bigger picture of plastic usage in Hong Kong.

There will be more people on Peng Chau tomorrow.  This beach is number 5 on the DB Green map and number 16 on the new Plastic Disaster map.  There is likely to be a lot of waste still on this beach so if you want to see it for yourself and help clear it away, please do.

Thanks to all the volunteers who are still coming out in such high numbers.  Your dedication & enthusiasm is so wonderful to see and be a part of.

Tracey x

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