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The Hong Kong government issued a document to reduce the use of disposable plastic tableware and replace it with degradable lunch boxes


Hong Kong’s measures to deal with disposable plastic tableware

·In Hong Kong, plastic waste accounts for the third largest amount of municipal solid waste disposed of, after food waste and waste paper. In 2019, nearly 10% of plastic waste was plastic tableware. Currently, there are no restrictions on the provision of disposable plastic tableware by catering establishments.

·In July 2021, the government issued a public consultation document, which proposed to completely ban disposable foam plastic tableware around 2025. The scope of the ban includes not only the provision of related tableware to customers by catering establishments, but also the sale of disposable foam plastic tableware to local final consumers (including catering establishments).

·As for non-styrofoam disposable plastic tableware, it will be controlled at different times according to the type of tableware: From 2025, all catering establishments are prohibited from providing certain types of non-styrofoam disposable plastic tableware to dine-in and takeaway customers ; As for the ban on other types of disposable plastic tableware, it will first be applied to dine-in services in the first phase, and will be extended to take-out services in the second phase (Table 1). The government also proposes to review and determine the implementation time of the second phase after implementing the first phase of control on non-styrofoam disposable plastic tableware for about 12 to 18 months. At that time, it will completely prohibit the catering establishments from providing disposable plastic tableware to customers. tableware. However, it is worth noting that the consultation document does not explicitly mention whether the sale of non-styrofoam disposable plastic tableware will be banned at a specific time.

Proposed timetable for controlling disposable plastic tableware in Hong Kong

·In addition to legislative control, Hong Kong is also determined to promote work in various aspects in order to reduce the use of disposable plastic tableware from the source. Among them, the government has cooperated with 700 restaurants to carry out promotional activities to encourage the public to bring their own reusable tableware through the redemption reward scheme. At the same time, the government supports schools in distributing lunches in the way of "on-the-spot meal distribution", and took the lead in stopping the provision of plastic drinking straws and styrofoam containers in government canteens.

·As the government recently launched a public consultation on the control of disposable plastic tableware, various sectors of the community have expressed their initial views and concerns. First of all, some stakeholders urge the government to provide more incentives and support measures in order to change the behavior of citizens before the ban on disposable plastic tableware. Secondly, some opinions are concerned that the proposed legislation cannot immediately solve the problem of a large amount of plastic waste generated by food delivery services under the epidemic, and therefore call on the government to take more timely or temporary measures to curb the surge in the disposal of disposable plastic tableware. Although the community is generally positive about the proposed legislation, there are also opinions that Hong Kong has not yet set a clear timetable for the complete ban of certain types of disposable plastic tableware.

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