Overuse of Plastic Disposable Tableware in Hong Kong

A video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nostril went viral last year and it shows that plastic waste will cause serious pollution problems to our environment.

People’s awareness of environmental protection has been raised by this video and started to reduce the usage of plastic disposable products. However, the consumption amount of plastic disposable products is still very high in Hong Kong.

Total Amount of Plastic Waste

Source: Environmental Protection Department

Hong Kong is a fast-paced city that people always pursue convenience in their daily life. Disposable products are always been used in our daily life in order to be more convenient. These disposable wastes are mainly made of plastic such as bottles, plastic bags, disposable tableware and so on. Most of them will finally go to landfill as the process of recycling has not well-developed in Hong Kong yet. The above graph illustrates the increasing trend of consumption of plastic products in Hong Kong. The average daily consumption amount of plastic is extremely high that it has been over 2000 tonnes per day since 2015.

We can see how serious is the problem of wasting plastic disposable products from the data showing below.

Plastic Disposable Tableware

source: Environmental Protection Department

Many of the fast food chain stores in Hong Kong such as Mc Donald, KFC and Starbucks are using disposable tableware not matter the customers dine in or take away.  Restaurants sacrifice the environment for convenience in order to provide better service to the customers by increasing their speed of serving the dishes. This cause the high consumption amount of disposable tableware in Hong Kong. According to the survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Department, the consumption amount of plastic disposable tableware is very high which has reached 131 tonnes per day since 2015.

From the graph above, we can see that the consumption amount of plastic disposable tableware in domestic waste is higher than that of the commercial waste. It shows that people’s habit of using disposable products instead of reusable products is one of the factors that lead to the problem.

Dining Habit.png

source: Green Peace

From the graph above, it shows that more than half of the interviewees would use disposable tableware when they are eating out. Hong Kong people have yet to develop the habit of bringing their own utensils when they go out. Therefore, they will use the disposable tableware provided by the restaurants when they call food delivery or take away.

Top 5 disposable tableware .png

source: Green Sense

Green Sense has conducted a survey showing that the usage amount of disposable products when customers dine in inside 10 food courts in Hong Kong. The graph above shows the top 5 five disposable tableware with the highest consumption amount. It shows that many restaurants in these 10 food courts are overusing disposable tableware as restaurants should be able to provide service with reusable tableware when customers dine in.

However, Mr.Chan Sing Ping, a restaurant owner in the Dragon Centre said that it is difficult for them to use reusable tableware when they are providing services. “There is not enough space for us to clean and store the reusable tableware so it is hard for us to stop using disposable tableware”, said by Chan Sing Ping.

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Also, Green Sense uses the data collected in the survey to estimate the amount of plastic waste used in lunchtime of 10 food courts in 20 days. It is estimated that over 350 million pieces of disposable tableware will be wasted that the weight is equivalent to the weight of an adult white whale.

Effect on overusing disposable waste

Disposable waste will only be used within a few minutes but it requires more than a hundred year to be fully dissolved after using, which caused a serious harm to our environment. Vivian Yuen, the project coordinator of the Green Sense, said” most of our disposable waste will go to landfill at the end because it is hard to recycle the disposable tableware after being polluted by the food waste.” A large amount of these waste will speed up the pace of landfill to be full and worsen the environmental problems in Hong Kong.

source: CNN

Vivian also stated that when people handle disposable waste in an improper way, it may lead to serious pollution in marine and hence affecting the habitat of marine animals. Marine animals may eat this disposable waste when it is dissolved into microplastic. Finally, it will affect our health as the plastic goes into the food chain and ecological cycle. 


Posted by: Yongshan KUANG

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