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Eco-groups urge residents to shun bottled water

Three local environmental advocacy groups – the Association of Synergy of Macau, Green Future and Macau Less Plastic Lifestyle – co-launched a map Monday that shows the locations of water fountains around the city, with the aim of encouraging the public to get their potable water from bubblers instead of buying bottled water.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

Three local environmental advocacy groups – the Association of Synergy of Macau, Green Future and Macau Less Plastic Lifestyle – co-launched a map Monday that shows the locations of water fountains around the city, with the aim of encouraging the public to get their potable water from bubblers instead of buying bottled water.

The launch was held at a press conference on the premises of the Association of Synergy of Macau in the city centre, on the eve of today’s World Environment Day (WED).

Rix Un Ka Hou, president of Green Future, underlined that many local residents don’t have the habit of carrying a reusable bottle when they go out as there are not many spots where they can refill them for free.

Un maintained that the limited number of water fountains for the public discourages people from carrying a reusable bottle and, in turn, leads to the excessive use ofdisposable plastic water bottles.

Referring to data released by the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) in 2015, Un said that Macau produced about 17 tonnes of used disposable plastic bottles every day, pointing out that as an average-sized plastic bottle weighs
25 grammes, every day 680,000 plastic bottles were thrown away in that year, a number which exceeded the city’s population. He noted that 470 drinks in plastic bottles are consumed every minute in Macau.

Macau’s population stood at 656,700 at the end of March.

According to the press conference, the groups in May spoke to various community groups and government bodies including the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC), Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), Sports Bureau (ID) and Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) about the locations of drinking fountains on their premises which are available to the public.

Many casinos provide free bottled water, mostly in very small bottles. Gamblers are often seen carrying more than one of the free mini-bottles so that they can drink them throughout the day before just throwing them away. ,

When asked by The Macau Post Daily about the proportion of freebies among all disposable plastic bottles, Association of Synergy of Macau Director Ron Lam U Ton said that they did not have a figure due to a lack of research.However Lam added he believes that empty bottles from casinos make up a large slice of the city´s plastic waste.

Lam noted that people take the free bottled water from casinos not because they like bottled water, but simply because they are thirsty. He said that in his view visitors would still drink water if the casinos provided drinking fountains instead of free bottled water, adding that he was looking forward to casinos installing drinking fountains so that they could include them in the next edition of their map.

Lam said that some universities in Hong Kong had already stopped selling water in plastic bottles containing less than a litre as they are keen to reduce plastic waste from their campuses. He urged the government to limit the selling of water in small plastic bottles to help reduce Macau’s plastic waste.

The map provides information on 104 places such as universities, health centres, libraries, museums and service centres, displaying the address and opening hours of each of them, and whether cold, warm or hot water is provided.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

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