'Unprecedented': Trash from China swamps Hong Kong beaches

Hong Kong (CNN)Trash piled meters deep on beaches where children usually swim, water littered with discarded food packaging and plastic bottles.

In recent days, Hong Kong's beaches have been swamped by mountains of trash and environmentalists and residents say it's got to stop.
"Trash on the beach is nothing new in Hong Kong, but this is completely different to what we would normally see," said Gary Stokes, Southeast Asia Director at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
    He called the size of the current trash pile "unprecedented."
    Labels and packaging seem to indicate that much of the trash comes from mainland China.
    "Most of the trash we normally find is local Hong Kong trash," Stokes says. "But this is definitely coming from the mainland."

    'Oil spill'

    Residents from Hong Kong, Cheng Chau and Lantau islands have shared photos and videos showing trash strewn across beaches and floating in the water.
    "There is a tragedy happening in Hong Kong now, and effectively a solidified 'oil spill' of trash/plastic washing up on Hong Kong's beaches," wrote local Doug Woodring on Facebook.
    Stokes encouraged people to take photos, particularly of the labels and packaging.
    "Trash talks, if you've got a load of mainland trash on the beach, how did it get there? (The government) can go to China and say this is a solid fact, we have a problem, we need your help to address it."
    In a statement, Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department said that "due to the effects of rainfall, marine currents and southwest monsoon wind, more marine refuse would be found during summer than other seasons."