Hong Kong Cleanup Celebrates Record-Breaking 15th Anniversary Cleanup Challenge with 75,623 participants
The 2015 Hong Kong Cleanup concluded this month marking the most successful initiative in its 15 year history. During this year’s community Cleanup Challenge event, 75,623 participants cleaned up an estimated 5,683,891 pieces of trash weighing in total 4,616,067 kg from 2,447 kilometres of Hong Kong’s coastlines, country parks and urban environments.
Louisa Ho, Chris Antonelli, Lisa Christensen and Anissa Wong announce the results of the 2015 Hong Kong Cleanup
Hundreds of teams comprising companies from all sectors took part, including Nomura, CLP, H&M, Fidelity, Hitachi, Bloomberg, and the University of Hong Kong, as well as thought leaders and celebrities, notably Secretary for the Environment KS Wong and celebrities such as Marcus Kwok (郭田葰) and Rachel Lam (林熹瞳).
Official organiser Ecozine and co-organiser The Nature Conservancy were joined by Permanent Secretary for the Environment Ms. Anissa Wong as well as Celebrity Ambassadors Jocelyn and Anthony Sandstrom and Ankie Beilke in celebration of this success, along with Chris Antonelli, Global Head of Prime Services at Nomura at a press conference at Kee Club on 17 December. Winners for each Cleanup Challenge category were announced, with the grand prize for Most Trash Collected being won by Nomura (by pieces), Standard Chartered Bank (by weight), The Nature Conservancy (per person), and The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (country park trails), respectively.
Tony and Jocelyn Sandstrom, Louisa Ho, Chris Antonelli, Lisa Christensen, Anissa Wong, Ankie Beilke and Nissa Marion at the Hong Kong Cleanup Press Conference on 17 December
The Hong Kong Cleanup Challenge is the region’s largest volunteer environmental event; it engages citizens from all walks of life in cleanup activities, which are aimed at not only removing harmful trash from nature, but also raising awareness through hands-on experiences. Hugely popular among corporates and schools, the event also sees clubs, communities, families, NGOs and even government departments joining the annual effort. Over the thirteen-week 2015 Challenge (Sept 1st – Dec 1st), hundreds of teams carried out cleanups across the region.
Lisa Christensen, Founder and CEO, said, “Hong Kong Cleanup has had an unmistakable impact on the environment and community. What started 15 years ago as a simple idea with a few friends has grown into a civic movement empowered by over 250,000 people. It has inspired numerous other NGO and government actions in that time.” Christensen added that the work will continue: “With all this momentum, we are confident that together with our community and with increased government action, we can clean up Hong Kong.”
Cofounder and Event Director Nissa Marion added, “The cleanup is only the beginning. Our ultimate end goal is to put ourselves out of a job! We want to eliminate the problem of trash that plagues our ecosystems, and we believe this is possible within our lifetime, through citizen behaviour change supported by zero waste goals, extended producer responsibility and government policy.”
Highlighting the HKSAR Government’s support, Hong Kong Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing offered the following congratulations: “We need the efforts of everybody to reduce waste and keep our city clean and green. The cleanup and public education efforts by Hong Kong Cleanup over the past 15 years have succeeded in mobilising an increasing number of volunteers to clean up coastal areas, as well as hiking trails, country parks, and even schools and offices. This does not just help keep our city clean but is important in reminding everyone the need to reduce waste at the source. I wish Hong Kong Cleanup success in achieving its goal to engage 5% of Hong Kong population in their cleanup challenges soon. We all have a role in keeping Hong Kong clean and green. Let’s act now!”
Permanent Secretary for the Environment Anissa Wong added her support in person at the press conference, citing the importance of individual responsibility and encouraging Hong Kong citizens to not only join the cleanup effort but to consider their individual waste habits throughout the year.
“Nature offers ‘eco-system’ services to human beings which include food, resources, medicine, and more importantly, solace for urban dwellers like us. Hong Kong is so blessed to have such easy access to hiking trials and sandy, white beaches so nearby. We fully support the Hong Kong Cleanup, which is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of nature conservation and also let people be engaged and have ownership for nature’s future,” said Louisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Program for The Nature Conservancy, co-organizer of the event.
Nissa Marion, Ankie Beilke, Lisa Christensen, Jocelyn and Tony Sandstrom at the Hong Kong Cleanup press conference on 17 December
In addition to being a well-loved household name locally, the Hong Kong Cleanup represents part of a massive global movement that has been led by U.S.-based Ocean Conservancy for 30 years. As official coordinator of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), the Hong Kong event contributes to global cleanup, awareness and solution-seeking efforts.
“Through these impressive results, the Hong Kong Cleanup has demonstrated the positive impact of cooperation and action in helping keep our ocean free from trash,” said Allison Schutes, Trash Free Seas Program Senior Manager at Ocean Conservancy. “Along with our congratulations, Ocean Conservancy also extends a hand of friendship to Hong Kong so that together we can find lasting solutions to ensure that Hong Kong’s and global coastlines stay beautiful and that our oceans remain rich and fruitful for this and future generations.”
To this end, Hong Kong Cleanup organisers have set an ambitious goal for its 15th anniversary: to engage 5% of Hong Kong’s population this year. They are 1/3 of the way to this goal, starting with the 75,623 who have participated during the Cleanup Challenge season, and the 26,600 members of their online community. Looking ahead, the organisers are planning new events and campaigns to increase citizen engagement touch-points throughout 2016 – including launching The Zero Waste Corporate Challenge and a second edition of the successful Zero Waste Week campaign and Global Summit.
For winners of the 2015 Cleanup Challenge, please see appendix below.