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Hong Kong Takes a Stand Against Single-Use Plastics on Earth Day

Hong Kong Takes a Stand Against Single-Use Plastics

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s battle against single-use plastics has taken a significant leap forward as a ban on these environmentally harmful products came into effect on Monday, coinciding with Earth Day. The ban encompasses a wide array of disposable plastic tableware and other plastic items, with stringent measures put in place to combat the pervasive issue of plastic waste.

To facilitate a smooth transition, the Hong Kong government has implemented a six-month “adaptation period,” during which non-compliant businesses will not face enforcement action. Instead, the authorities will focus on promoting awareness and educating the public about the ban’s implications. Approximately 20,000 restaurants, 20,000 retail stores, and numerous hotels will be inspected by Environmental Protection Department (EPD) personnel during this initial phase.

Once the adaptation period concludes, the EPD will provide guidance and issue warnings to any individuals or businesses found to be in violation of the ban. The department emphasized that enforcement actions would be taken against repeat offenders, after considering the specific circumstances surrounding their non-compliance.

The ban encompasses an extensive range of plastic products, including Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) tableware, plastic straws, stirrers, forks, knives, spoons, and plates. However, plastic cups and food containers are still permitted for take-away purposes, while their use for dine-in services remains prohibited. Additionally, stemmed cotton buds, umbrella bags, and balloon sticks are among the other items now banned.

The Legislative Council played a crucial role in the fight against plastic pollution by passing the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2023 last October. The ban was introduced in two phases, with the second phase tentatively scheduled for 2025. The upcoming phase is expected to broaden the scope of the ban, depending on the availability and affordability of non-plastic or reusable alternatives. Items such as multipack rings, tablecloths, and plastic-stemmed dental floss will likely be prohibited during this stage.

Hong Kong’s efforts to curb the use of single-use plastics reflect a growing global concern for the environment and a commitment to sustainable practices. As the city takes this significant step forward, it joins a growing list of regions worldwide that are embracing the urgent need to address plastic waste and protect our planet for future generations.