Marine Refuse Study

Staff of the Marine Refuse Study Consultancy weigh the marine refuse collected at a beach. Staff of the Marine Refuse Study Consultancy sort the marine refuse collected at a beach.
Staff of the Marine Refuse Study Consultancy weigh the different types of marine refuse collected at a beach. Staff of the Marine Refuse Study Consultancy record the composition of marine refuse collected at a beach.

A study was commenced in March 2013 to enable the Government to identify measures to enhance inter-departmental efforts to address the marine refuse problem. The key objectives of the study are to collect, collate and analyze up-to-date information on the sources, fates, distribution and movement of marine refuse in Hong Kong waters. The study will also review existing measures and formulate strategic policies to prevent and reduce marine refuse.

Marine refuse generally means any solid waste, discarded or lost material, resulting from human activities, that has entered the marine environment irrespective of their sources. Marine refuse, as defined in this Study, includes waste or material that is found floating at sea or has been washed ashore in the territory of Hong Kong.

We have appointed Mott MacDonald Hong Kong Limited to conduct the study. The consultant made field visits to priority coastal sites to collect refuse data in a scientific manner. They also closely liaised with relevant government departments and community groups to collect more data on marine refuse. The collected data were analyzed to examine the sources, waste composition, and distribution of marine refuse.

A data card has been prepared to record refuse quantity and composition, drawing reference from the United Nations Environment Program/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNEP/IOC) Guidelines and International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) standard data card. It covers over 70 types of refuse and relates refuse to human activities. Some community groups also passed their data to us for consideration in the study.

Field Visits

Two types of field visits, namely, refuse characteristic survey and focus survey, were conducted in the study.

Refuse Characteristic Survey at Priority Areas

The consultant carried out refuse characteristic survey at priority areas including gazetted beaches managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and other locations under the purview of the Marine Department, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Our methodology to conduct refuse characteristic survey:

  • 5 rounds of surveys at each location
  • Sort, count, weigh, classify refuse from a portion of refuse collected by departments
  • Inspect the site to identify refuse source
  • Interview staff at the site
  • Record data for further analysis

Focus Survey on Priority Coastlines

Focus survey (one-year baseline and accumulation survey) was conducted at 6 sites to investigate the accumulation of marine refuse under the effect of different tidal conditions and water current. The consultant selected the 6 sites (not including gazetted beaches) for focus survey according to information provided by government departments, District Councils and non-governmental organisations.

Our methodology to conduct focus survey:

  • 5 rounds of surveys in wet and dry seasons
  • Collect refuse from a sampling area
  • Sort, count, weigh, classify the collected refuse
  • Inspect the site to identify refuse source
  • Record data for further analysis

All surveys conducted between April 2013 to March 2014 have now been completed. Please click here for more details on the data collection and analysis.

The consultant has proposed priority sites for enhanced cleansing and improvement measures to help keep our shorelines clean. After considering the implementation details, the Working Group on Clean Shorelines announced the results at a press briefing on 17 April 2015. The Study Report can be downloaded here.

Investigation on the Sources and Fates of Marine Refuse in Hong Kong – Study Report