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Hong Kong environmental issues

Tackle Hong Kong’s single-use plastic problem by taxing disposable lunchboxes and tableware

    PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 2:17pm
    UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 2:17pm

    While having a meal at a local Chinese restaurant, I noticed a mountain of disposable plastic lunchboxes to one side awaiting use. We are no doubt all aware of the problems, both for the environment and health, posed by such single-use plastic items.

    Intrigued, I wondered what the Hong Kong government’s position and intentions were with regard to the problem. This very question, among others, I discovered had been asked by Paul Tse Wai-chun in the Legislative Council earlier in the year.

    A written reply was made by the Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, after consulting the various concerned government bureaus and departments.

    “The government has been striving to promote green lunch in schools,” Wong stated, adding that the Environmental Protection Department “engages the catering sector from time to time to encourage restaurants to phase in green measures, such as providing dine-in customers with only reusable food containers and tableware, avoiding the use of styrofoam food containers for takeaway food and welcoming customers to bring their own food containers for takeaway food.”

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    While these intentions are noble, it appears to me that they are taking far too long to take effect. Meanwhile, the plastic bag levy, introduced in July 2009, has led to a dramatic decrease in usage of plastic bags, although 50 cents may now be far too low a fee. The Environmental Protection Department is to be congratulated on the effectiveness of this and many other initiatives.

    Couldn’t our government follow this success and launch a similar scheme for disposable plastic lunchboxes? This would really affirm Hong Kong’s intention to become a world-class city.

    Tony Price, Lantau

    Make people pay for impacting the environment

    I refer to your article “Most Hong Kong people in favour of mandatory pay-as-you-throw scheme for household waste, survey finds” (December 4). Hong Kong has long been plagued by waste problems. To reduce the heavy burden on the city’s landfills, a pay-as-you-throw scheme is a feasible mechanism for making waste producers – in this case households – pay for the waste they generate, instead of being allowed to discard rubbish without cost.

    Waste charging isn’t a perfect scheme, but it’s a start

    The scheme is using an economic disincentive to reduce household waste. It makes evident that there is a price to be paid for any action that impacts the environment. This scheme will force people to reflect on their ecological footprints and raise their environmental awareness.

    Tse Hoi-tung, Kwai Chung