The city's largest fast-food chain, McDonald's, launched its 'No Straw Day' campaign yesterday to cut down on waste, with organisers saying the project could save 7.2 million plastic drinking straws a year.
Environmental group Green Sense, the event organiser, said disposable utensils from fast-food restaurants were a major source of waste in Hong Kong, accounting for 100 tonnes annually.
The group also estimated that up to 82,000 straws were used for lunch every day at the city's five major fast-food restaurant chains.
'If we connected all the straws together, they would stretch the length of 12 Tsing Ma bridges,' said the group's vice-chairman, Lai Ming-chuen.
From this month, McDonald's will not provide drinking straws on the second and fourth Mondays of the month unless customers ask for them.
Green Sense said it approached four other fast-food chains - Maxim's, Cafe de Coral, Fairwood, and KFC - to join the campaign, but without success.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of environmental protection, Raymond Fan Wai-ming, said the department would launch a public consultation on the proposed plastic bag levy and submit a bill on it to the legislature by the end of the year.
Last month, the government unveiled the levy plan, under which consumers will pay 50 HK cents for each bag distributed at 2,000 targeted retail outlets. The aim is to save at least 1 billion bags a year and bring in HK$200 million in government revenue.
Mr Fan said he hoped the bag levy would not only reduce the use of plastic bags, but also change people's habits and lifestyles to reduce waste.
He said voluntary schemes on plastic-bag reduction had only a limited impact on waste reduction, and a levy was necessary to curb their use.