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In an attempt to fight single-use plastic waste, the upcoming Hong Kong Sevens will feature reusable pints as part of The Hong Kong Rugby Union’s (HKRU) annual Green Sevens campaign, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of the much-anticipated 3-day rugby tournament.
Over 120,000 spectators are expected to attend the Hong Kong Sevens, and they generate large amounts of plastic waste: hundreds of thousands of beverages are consumed over the course of the event. This year, the HKRU has partnered with social purpose organisation BottLess to reduce the number of plastic disposable cups used during the weekend tournament. BottLess has had previous experience coordinating plastic-free solutions for other major events such as Clockenflap Festival and RunOurCity marathons.
Under the new reusable cup scheme, spectators will pay a $10 HKD deposit in cash or through thier Octopus card for their cup, which they can reclaim after returning it. Reusable cup customers can also opt donate their deposit to the Sevens’ official charity, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, by dropping their cups in designated charity collection bins upon leaving.
The 250,000 reusable cups will be made from post-consumer recycled plastic and have a lifespan of around five years. These cups will be collected, disinfected and reused throughout the Sevens weekend. The Union is also looking at using these cups at other non-rugby events and international competitions.
HKRU CEO Robbie McRobbie said: “We believe that this will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated, eliminating potential harm to the environment and helping to save space in our increasingly full landfills”.
This is not the first time waste-tackling policies have been introduced at Hong Kong Sevens. Previous Green Sevens campaigns included an initiative to reuse plastic jugs whereby spectators would receive a $10 HKD discount upon refilling their jug as an incentive. This will be continued this year and implemented across all public concession points, apart from the South Stand. The HKRU has also become a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Declaration in recent weeks.
HKRU’s green campaign will be monitored by Hong Kong based consultancy The Purpose Business, who will report on the environmental impact of the scheme and coordinate with volunteers and NGOs during the event. The switch to reusable cups has been lauded by the government’s Environment Bureau (ENB), Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).
While the HKRU and Green Sevens campaigns are making positive progress towards a zero-waste future, there is still a long way to go. The reusable cups initiative is a major step to tackle waste, but the 2019 event will not be completely single-use disposable plastic free. Still, there is reason to hope that more incremental measures to tackle Hong Kong’s critical waste and pollution problem will continue to be implemented in the future.
Image courtesy of the HKRU.