Hong Kong Plastic Ban Set Earlier Than Expected


Earlier Implementation of Partial Single-Use Plastic Ban Eyed in Late 2023

Hong Kong is on track to implement a ban on disposable plastic utensils earlier than planned, obliging restaurants to adopt eco-friendly tableware as early as the fourth quarter of 2023.

In a paper submitted to the Legislative Committee on Oct. 18, the Environment and Ecology Bureau (EEB) has proposed to enforce a ban on single-use plastic tableware such as chopsticks, forks, knives, spoons, straws, and plates in restaurants by the fourth quarter of next year, two years earlier than planned.

The EEB said the earlier implementation reflects the wide adoption of eco-friendly tableware, particularly during the pandemic.

“During the public consultation, there were quite some views that given many places have already been strengthening the regulation of disposable plastic tableware through legislation or other measures in recent years,” the EEB said in the paper.

“[D]uring the epidemic, people tend to use food delivery/takeaway services more frequently, resulting in an increase in the use of disposable plastic tableware; hence there is room to advance the implementation of the first phase of the regulation before 2025 as suggested in the consultation document,” it added.

Hong Kong’s plastic ban comes in two phases. The first phase will prohibit the sale and use of single-use plastics at restaurant premises in the fourth quarter of 2023. The second phase will extend the ban to takeaway containers in 2025.

Offenders could face a penalty of HK$ 2,000, said the bureau.

Items that are exempt from the ban include pre-packaged food and drinks with attached plastics, such as straws on juice boxes, spoons in ice cream cups, and single-use tableware for medical or security purposes.

The government also hopes to prohibit the sale of cotton buds, umbrella bags, hotel toiletries, and other plastic products as early as the fourth quarter of 2023.

The Legislative Council’s panel on environmental affairs will discuss the amendments on Oct. 24.

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