Study Buddy (Explorer): Bye to free hotel toiletries? Hong Kong public consultation on proposal to ban single-use plastics

  • Each week, Study Buddy Explorer presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Until December 29, Hong Kong residents can submit their views on a proposal to ban single-use plastic. Photo: Edmond So

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Hong Kong could ban glow sticks, festival decorations, free hotel toiletries, cotton buds and other non-essential single-use plastic items under a new proposal that opened for public consultation in September.

[2] Hongkongers can submit their views from October 1 until December 29. One question that the public consultation centres on is whether residents think actions to control certain single-use plastics should be taken within three years or five.

[3] The public consultation allows residents to voice their views on raising the plastic shopping bag levy. This has not changed from 50 cents since it was first introduced in 2009. Green groups criticised the proposal for lacking a concrete timeline. They questioned the government’s commitment to tackling the issue.

[4] “Since Hong Kong has set the target of being carbon neutral by 2050, we will have to talk about plastics,” said Lam Ching-choi, chairman of the Council for Sustainable Development. “The production and disposal of plastic also emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.”

[5] Lam said he hoped the public consultation would help producers understand what consumers wanted in terms of packaging. He hoped it would also help shoppers understand the reasons manufacturers use plastic in the first place.

[6] The sustainability council hopes to steer the city towards banning single-use plastic completely. They hope to replace single-use plastic with other materials, or reduce the production of items that are not necessary and that are harder to recycle. This includes party decorations, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic egg cartons and trays used to package meat.

[7] Hong Kong has recently seen an increase in single-use plastic waste, particularly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Local green groups warned it would lead to the city’s landfills being overrun with waste, despite a slight dip in 2019.

[8] On average, every Hongkonger sent 1.47kg of municipal solid waste – including household, commercial and industrial trash – to landfills every day in 2019. That year, plastic made up the third-largest part of the city’s waste, but less than 10 per cent of it was recycled. Single-use items made up nearly half of the 2,300 tonnes of plastic thrown out each day, while plastic bags alone made up 33 per cent.

[9] The proposal suggests complete bans on individually sized hotel toiletries, plastic festival and celebration products, excessive gift wrapping, and disposable umbrella bags. It also recommends other voluntary measures, such as avoiding excessive packaging and promoting the use of refillable bottles.
Source: South China Morning Post, September 30


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. Which of the following options is considered to be a single-use plastic item according to the article?
A. festival decoration
B. cotton bud
C. glow stick
D. all of the above

2. According to paragraph 2, when is the deadline for the public to submit their views?

3. Find a word in paragraph 3 that means “a promise or decision to do something”.

4. According to paragraph 4, what can create a lot of greenhouse gases?

5. What two things does Lam hope the public consultation will achieve in paragraph 5? (2 marks)

6. What does the sustainability council want to replace bubble wraps with according to paragraph 6?
A. styrofoam
B. mushroom packaging
C. air pillows
D. information not given

7. Read paragraphs 6 and 7, and decide whether the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text.
(i) The sustainability council hopes to ban single-use plastic.
(ii) The sustainability council plans to replace all plastic egg cartons with paper boxes.
(iii) Less plastic has been used since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
(iv) Hong Kong’s landfills had more waste in 2019 compared to today.

8. How much of the city’s plastic waste is recycled according to paragraph 8?
A. less than 10 per cent
B. about 33 per cent
C. exactly 1.47kg
D. more than 2,300 tonnes

9. Which of the following suggestions is not mentioned in paragraph 9?
A. banning individually sized hotel toiletries
B. banning fireworks during festivals and celebrations
C. banning umbrella bags
D. banning unnecessary wrapping for gifts

A lot of plastic waste ends up in our oceans and beaches. Photo: Jonathan Wong


1. D
2. December 29
3. commitment
4. the production and disposal of plastic
5. (i) It will help producers know what consumers want in terms of packaging; (ii) it will help shoppers understand why manufacturers use plastic.
6. D
7. (i) T; (ii) NG; (iii) F; (iv) F
8. A
9. B

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