Rachel Pang Hoi-yan, the founder of Water for Free, an NGO that promotes the use of water dispensaries in the city, said government departments had poured cold water on the idea of adding drinking fountains at city halls and museums. Event organisers were also discouraged as they often sought sponsorship from companies selling bottled water.
Pang’s plea came after it emerged on Thursday that vending machines at government premises would stop stocking water in bottles of one litre or less from February 20 next year. The policy was intended to clamp down on unnecessary plastic waste.
A spokeswoman for the LCSD said it would consider installing water fountains when planning new facilities and renovating existing facilities, according to needs and circumstances.
More than 5 million polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles go into Hong Kong landfills every day, and will take hundreds of years to decompose.
Pang welcomed the new policy and said she hoped officials would change their attitude to drinking fountains, which she called a vital alternative.
Four years ago, Pang developed a smartphone app that showed the locations of water dispensers in the city. She recently ventured into a not-for-profit business hiring out the machines to event organisers.
“I’m surprised to find water dispensers are absent from almost all government cultural venues like libraries, museums and performance halls,” she said.
“There are three vending machines but no water dispenser in the Science Museum. How ironic it is that they have run an exhibition about plastic waste before.”
In Kowloon Park, there are more than 20 vending machines but only three drinking fountains, all of them inside the sports centre, she added.