Hong Kong’s strict COVID-19 quarantine policies have called public attention as it seems they are damaging the environment, the economy, and the people’s mental health, as Reuters reported.

In every corner of Hong Kong’s quarantine hotels, newcomers encounter remote controls covered in cellophane, pillows wrapped in plastic bags, and food served with plastic cutlery.

Clementine Vaughan, a Hong Kong-based skincare entrepreneur, told Reuters on April 19 that “Every single one of the staff members here wears full PPE … the gowns, the gloves, the booties, the hats, and that’s every staff member and on every floor.”

The facilities have also become the source of the problem. Residents told Reuters that every meal came with a plastic bag.

Paul Zimmerman, an elected district councilor, said that the facilities were wasteful as they are not reusable in the future. He referred to public housing as an example.

He said, “They’ve been built very quickly … (and don’t) comply with any particular building standards we have in Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s stringent Zero-Covid policies harm the environment by producing excess waste. Founder and current Executive Director of The Green Earth, Edwin Lau, said that Hong Kong’s response to the Covid outbreak showed its lack of environmental awareness.

Lau called on the government to permit the recycling or reuse of plastics in quarantine areas. He also added that people quarantined in hotels were not confirmed cases.

Citing government figures, Reuters reported that Hong Kong discards more than 2,300 tons of plastic waste per day.

The plastic recycling rate only accounts for 11%, and most of it goes into landfills.

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