Green campaign to persuade city diners that less is more

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am

Environmental activist group Greeners Action today kicks off a campaign to reduce food waste in Hong Kong with a programme that offers diners a HK$1 rebate if they ask for less rice with a meal at more than 160 restaurants citywide.

The discounts will be offered on the first Wednesday of every month.

Diners joining the campaign would get a third less rice than usual at the selected restaurants, Greeners Action project officer Yip Chui-man said.

'The financial tsunami can benefit our campaign as more people will care about the HK$1 rebate now,' she said. 'It could be a lure for them to join. They will think twice before ordering.'

Tsui Wah Restaurant, one of the 20 food chains participating in the campaign, agreed.

'More people may be tempted to order less with the rebate,' said David Ng Tak-leung, consultant to the chain, which has 13 branches across the city.

Mr Ng said very few diners asked for a smaller portion even if they knew they could not finish a meal. 'We are businessmen,' he said.

'We cannot afford to lose our customers and if we give out smaller portions than usual, we will be criticised.'

Mr Ng, who is also president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said the campaign could help the food industry and the planet.

'Although our business has not seen any major decrease, we do believe it can be a good promotion. We hope people can be more responsible and care more about society. One customer who cannot finish the meal and orders less means nothing, but if 100 customers ask for a smaller portion, it is a big help to our Earth.'

Greeners Action said the campaign might be extended to more restaurants and more days of the week.

'It all depends on the response. Of course we hope to do more to reduce food waste,' Ms Yip said.

The group said 3,310 tonnes of food waste was generated in Hong Kong every day in 2007, making up 35 per cent of total municipal solid waste. A survey by the group found that 84 per cent of people often could not finish their meals and nearly half indicated they had been given too much. More than 60 per cent of leftover food was rice and about 15 per cent was meat and vegetables.

Food for thought

3,310 tonnes of food waste was generated every day in 2007

Of the total municipal solid waste, this is: 35%