District Councillor Paul Zimmerman, local resident Moran Zukerman and Julie Leung from environmental organisation Plastic Free Seas took medical waste collected over two months to the government on Tuesday, urging them to take action and find the source.

Outside the Central Government Offices, they displayed medical waste that Zukerman had been collecting since May on Sam Pak Wan. Among the trash were syringes, glass, plastic containers, vials and IV bags. Some syringes still had needles attached.

Left to right: Paul Zimmerman, Moran Zukerman and Julia Leung from Plastic Free Seas. Photo: DesigningHongKong.com

A press release published by Designing Hong Kong said that the “medical waste collected were for human and veterinarian use (antibiotics and preventative medicine), and many are hazardous and potentially poisonous.”

Table displaying medical trash. Photo: DesigningHongKong.com.

Zimmerman told reporters on Tuesday that medical waste from Guangdong province may have ended up on Hong Kong’s shores after being illegally dumped into the sea. He urged the government to take action.

“What needs to be done is that the government needs to collect this kind of waste and investigate, try to identify the source,” he told HKFP on Wednesday. “There are labels, there are brands on it, there are dates on it, there are code numbers on the packaging, so this can be traced… but the government needs to do the investigation first… If you just put it in a black bag and dump it, it disappears.” He also said that because this is a “practical” issue, it would not be difficult to get mainland authorities to cooperate.

Zukerman said the display was only part of what he had collected and that he dares not eat fish for fear of attracting germs. He said many of the waste items contain fish bites, meaning that fish were exposed to the items.

Among the waste is medical trash. Photo: DesigningHongKong.com.

Containers full of waste

Zimmerman said that medical waste is not a new phenomenon, and Plastic Free Seas and Green DB have been reporting medical waste found on beaches to the government since 2008.

Shoni Kristensen, a mother of two, said on Facebook that she was also collecting medical waste at Big Wave Bay on Lantau Island and that she “has containers and containers full of medical waste.”

Medical waste found on Big Wave Bay. Photo: Shoni Kristensen via Facebook.

She said that “one day someone somewhere is going to do something about this. I’m just worried I won’t be alive when that day finally comes.”

Medical waste found on Big Wave Bay. Photo: Shoni Kristensen via Facebook.

Recently, a tide of trash was found in the sea and on beaches, leading to multiple small-scale clean up events held by volunteers. However, many also saw trash repopulate the beaches and seas after the areas were cleared. Zimmerman said it was unclear whether the medical waste was connected to the recent increase of waste on Hong Kong’s shores.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.