Rachel Pang of the Water For Free app, speaks to The Loop HK about how to reduce plastic waste in Hong Kong by purchasing less bottled beverages.
What do you do?
I give educational talks to raise awareness about the issue of plastic waste — in particular, bottled water. I develop tools such as the Water for Free app, which helps people to find places to refill their water bottle on the go. I also install temporary water dispensers for events and permanent dispensers at schools and community centres to reduce the consumption of bottled water.
How does your business work?
Water for Free is a mobile app that shows the locations of water dispensers throughout Hong Kong. It is an effort to reduce the vast amounts of beverage bottles entering our landfills every day. According to the 2016 Waste Statistics issued by the EPD, Hong Kong sent 158 tons of PET plastic waste to landfills every day — that’s over 6 million beverage bottles.
We now invite cafes, shops and other organizations to provide water for free to those who bring their own bottles. Such a kind offer can have a positive impact on the participant’s brand image, increase traffic to its venue and help protect the environment. It’s a win-win!
How did your business get started?
It got started in 2013 when I saw a water fountain app in London online. I said to myself, Hong Kong needs its own water dispenser app that encourages and facilitates people to bring their own bottles.
Who are your clients?
Whoever downloads our app and uses it are our clients. Cafes, shops and organizations which have joined us by providing water for free to those who bring their own bottles — such as Patagonia, Aesop, Ovo, Oxfam, Escapade Sports, and Cafe Corridor — are also our clients.
What’s a day in your working life like?
Since we recently obtained some funding to install 50 plus water dispensers in schools and community centers, and to give educational talks about the issue of plastic waste, my working life has been pretty much occupied with managing this meaningful project to make sure we deliver results.
Where do you in future?
We hope that water dispensers will be installed in each and every MTR station so that millions of Hong Kongers who travel on the MTR every day can have access to free water instead of being forced to consume bottled water, which is sold in most of the stores inside MTR stations.
An elevator convo with Rachel Pang. See here for more from our Next Up series.