Fast-food chains urged to cut down on waste

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am

Fast-food outlets should consider doing away with wrappers for chopsticks, dispensing sugar from common containers instead of individual packets and other ways to cut down on disposable waste, a concern group says.

Targeting three popular fast-food restaurants - Cafe de Coral, Fairwood and Maxim's - a Green Sense survey found diners on average threw away more that 10 million disposable items a month.

Cafe de Coral accounted for more than half the total while Maxim's was responsible for just over 20 per cent.

The survey was carried out at the end of last year and in March and April this year.

From midday to 2pm, a total of 66,312 sheets of meal tray paper were thrown away at the 128 Cafe de Coral, 79 Fairwood and 62 Maxim's outlets covered by the survey.

'If the amount of tray paper used during a lunchtime is about 66,000, one month would result in roughly 2 million sheets of paper. This is equivalent to the total area of 17 football pitches,' a Green Sense spokesman said.

Plastic bags for cutlery, napkins and toothpicks and their packaging each numbered 63,104. Straw wrappers totalled 32,286, sugar packets reached 26,746 while chopstick wrappers totalled 27,810.

Cafe de Coral's lunchtime tally was 186,368 disposable items compared to 82,318 for Fairwood and 73,780 for Maxim's. In total, the three restaurant operators generated 342,466 such items over lunchtime.

On average, the number of disposable items generated by a single restaurant at lunchtime totalled 1,456 for Cafe de Coral, 1,042 for Fairwood and 1,190 for Maxim's.

Cafe de Coral was the worst offender in every category except sugar packets and chopstick wrappers, which were the highest for Maxim's. Diners at Maxim's threw away 136 sugar packets and 150 chopstick wrappers compared to Cafe de Coral's 90 and 94, and Fairwood's 86 and 82, respectively.

A survey by Green Sense late last year yielded similar results and prompted the group to call for urgent remedial action to tackle the wastage. It warned that Hong Kong's three landfills would reach capacity within five to eight years.

The group wants the fast-food operators to carefully consider the needs of their customers instead of automatically distributing napkins and toothpicks.

Disposable culture

Environmental group Green Sense has been campaigning for the city to reduce the amount of unnecessary waste

According to the group, the number of disposable items used in a month

at Cafe de Coral: 5.6m

at Fairwood: 2.5m

at MX: 2.2m