Home Business Hong Kong Restaurants Slow to Embrace Eco-Friendly Alternatives Despite Plastics Ban

Hong Kong Restaurants Slow to Embrace Eco-Friendly Alternatives Despite Plastics Ban

Hong Kong Restaurants Slow to Embrace Eco-Friendly Alternatives Despite Plastics Ban
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Hong Kong’s restaurants are facing challenges in transitioning to eco-friendly alternatives following the recent ban on single-use plastics. On Monday, the ban came into effect, prohibiting the use of disposable plastics such as straws and utensils. However, many restaurants are still utilizing these items, despite the six-month grace period provided by the government.

The shift towards eco-friendly options has been more noticeable in chain eateries compared to smaller establishments.

The ban encompasses Styrofoam tableware, plastic straws, cutlery, and stirrers. However, plastic containers and cups, along with their lids, are not included in the current phase of the ban but will be prohibited in the second phase, expected to commence next year.

Simon Wong, President of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, revealed in an interview with RTHK that approximately 70 percent of restaurants have not yet adopted non-plastic alternatives. Wong also noted that eco-friendly options are currently 20 to 30 percent more expensive than plastic utensils. However, he emphasized that the adjustment period would provide the catering industry with additional time to identify suitable replacements.

Notably, a few restaurant chains have already made the switch to plant-based alternatives for plastic utensils. To offset the increased costs, Café de Coral and TamJai Yunnan Mixian have begun charging HK$1 for utensil sets, while Fairwood offers a reusable stainless steel set for HK$2. However, HKFP’s observations revealed that the paper spoons provided by Café de Coral were unwieldy and fragile.

Maxim’s Group has taken a similar approach by charging HK$1 for bamboo chopsticks and spoons made of sugarcane pulp, and they also provide rebates to customers who bring their own cutlery and containers.

Major fast-food chains, including McDonald’s and 7-Eleven, have made significant changes by replacing plastic cups with paper cups and lids for both hot and cold beverages. Residents have shown appreciation for the efforts, with one Kowloon City resident expressing delight over the new lids, believing they contribute positively to the environment.

The ban on single-use plastics was introduced following the passage of the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2023 by the Legislative Council in October last year. The second phase of the ban, which may take effect as early as next year, will extend the prohibition to all plastic containers, cups, tablecloths, and disposable gloves. Implementation will depend on the availability and affordability of suitable alternatives.

Hong Kong’s transition to eco-friendly alternatives in the restaurant industry is an ongoing process that requires collaboration between businesses, government agencies, and consumers. Overcoming the challenges associated with cost, convenience, and effectiveness of alternatives is crucial in creating a sustainable and environmentally conscious dining culture in the city.