Plastic-free tableware campaign saves 1.2 million items

Organisers of the second phase of the Hong Kong government’s ‘Plastic-Free Takeaway, Use Reusable Tableware’ campaign claim it has saved more than 1 million disposable items.

To encourage the public to go “plastic-and-disposable-free” when ordering takeaways, the Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC) and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) collaborated with the food and beverage industry to organise the publicity and education campaign. Its second phase concluded on August 9.

The second-phase promotion was launched in mid-June by the ECC and the EPD together with some 700 eateries across the territory, including more than 630 eateries under 30+ catering businesses and more then 50 canteens and restaurants in government venues. The aim was to encourage the public to bring their own reusable tableware and avoid the use of disposable tableware so as to reduce single-use plastic waste.

During the two-month program, around 1.2 million sets of disposable tableware were saved by the public. Members of the public also saved around 1.2 million sets of disposable tableware during the first phase of the campaign, a two-month pilot programme focused on the extensive networks of three major fast food chains across the territory, held from November last year until January.

“Participation from the entire community is crucial to achieving ‘less waste, plastic-free’,” said a spokesman for the EPD. “The campaign has received wide support from the F&B industry. The Phase Two promotion program included a diverse range of eateries, from fast-food chains and Hong Kong-style tea restaurants to Chinese restaurants, Western cafes and restaurants, light refreshment restaurants, kiosks and stores, as well as online takeaway platforms,” he said. 

“Together they have provided environmentally friendly customers with various complimentary offers and gifts. The ECC and the EPD also actively released information about the program and promoted the message of ‘say no to disposables, bring your own tableware’ through various channels including public transport, radio and newspapers, social media and webpages to help instill a ‘plastic-free for all’ culture in society.”

The EPD is reviewing the implementation of the promotion and its operational experience, and will maintain close liaison with different stakeholders in the F&B sector to consider further collaboration in promoting reduced use of disposable plastic tableware. 

Meanwhile, the EPD is also holding the 2019 “Plastic-free Beach, Tableware First” campaign at all public beaches during this year’s swimming season. More environmentally friendly tableware including paper straws, wooden forks, paper containers and reusable utensils will be used in place of disposable plastic tableware, with a view to promoting a “plastic-free” culture and protecting the oceans.

Over the longer term, the EPD is conducting a study on the control of disposable plastic tableware, which includes making reference to developments in other countries or places regarding the control of disposable plastic items as well as exploring the necessity and feasibility of such control, in order to draw up proposals suitable for implementation in Hong Kong. The experience gained from promoting reduced use of disposable plastic tableware in the food and beverage sector will also be taken into account in the study, which is scheduled for completion in 2020.

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