Sustainable Asia
Published in

Sustainable Asia

Behind the Masks of Covid-19

By Jiaxing Li

In the midst of a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, Hong Kong still sees new confirmed cases every day and wearing a mask is now indelibly imprinted on our daily lives. But have you ever wondered where all these disposable masks end up? This week, we talk about the city’s mask pollution problem, and drop into some sustainable initiatives in China as well.

Hong Kong: how Covid-19 worsened the plastic deluge

An online survey from a local NGO Greeners Action found that Hong Kong people used at least 2 billion disposable masks within 2020 alone. Is this mask waste managed properly? Not really. Marine conservation organization Ocean Asia said that about 1.5 billion face masks likely entered our oceans last year, and they can take as long as up to 450 years to break down.

Alongside the mass use of masks, surging online shopping also creates a lot more plastic packaging waste. In 2013, the government set a target that each Hong Konger should only produce about 0.8kg (1.8lbs) municipal solid waste by 2022. Unfortunately, per capita solid waste hovered around 1.47kg (3.24lbs) in 2019, nearly double the target for 2022. Adding fuel to the fire are the mountains of disposable masks, hygiene products and all the takeaway packages.

China: companies step up to achieve the carbon neutral goal

After China pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, companies from different sectors have responded to the call and made their moves.

Chinese tech giant Tencent recently announced a carbon neutrality plan, which said they will recycle the residual heat in the data centers and use it to warm up over 5,000 households. But as promising as it is, they didn’t specify a time frame, so we will have to see when this will be realised.

Property developer New World Development recently issued a 10-year green bond and said they will use the money to use of renewable energy in its real estate projects. Fossil fuel energy company Sinopec also said they’re planning to split ‘green hydrogen’ from water to cut down the carbon emissions.

Want to know more about how climate change causes corals in Taiwan to bleach? Why an animal-abusing incident might lead to a law change in India? Listen to our podcast series and find out more. And don’t forget to follow our social media so we can keep you up-to-date on green news.

Sustainable Asia Podcast “GreenBites” Series is hosted by Chermaine Lee and Bonnie Au. Associate producer: Jiaxing Li and Executive Producer: Marcy Trent Long



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Sustainable Asia

Sustainable Asia


Taking the most relevant and current sustainability research from Asia to global audiences. Visit our podcast and other media at