The Hong Kong government aims to roll out its ban on single-use plastic tableware within the next six months. Restaurants will not be allowed to give customers disposable plastic tableware such as stirrers, straws, knives, forks, spoons, and plates.

Under the impending ban, restaurants will also be prohibited from providing patrons plastic cups and cup lids, food containers and their covers to diners. In addition, hotels will not be allowed to stock their rooms with free plastic toiletries, umbrella covers, toothbrushes, and cotton buds. The ban will also cover inflatable cheer sticks, glow sticks, and party hats.

Some exceptions to the ban include disposable plastic straws already attached to beverage cartons or single-use plastic cutlery inside cup noodles and ice cream cups. Restaurants can also provide or sell plastic straws to diners who have medical needs.

A table showing how the ban on restaurants selling and providing customers with disposable plastics will roll out in two phases.
The ban on restaurants selling and providing customers with disposable plastics will roll out in two phases (© GovHK)

No date has been set for when the ban will come into force, but government proposals state that it will happen in late 2023 or early 2024.

The measure against single-use plastics in restaurants is part of a two-step programme to stop restaurants from providing or selling customers all forms of disposable tableware. In early 2025, authorities plan to extend the ban to takeaway food as well.

According to government data, there were 2,300 tonnes of waste plastic in the city’s landfills in 2021, which accounted for 21% of total municipal solid waste. Plastic or polyfoam tableware made up 10% of this waste.

White containers lined up on a Hong Kong pavement with plastic bags containing takeaway orders from a restaurant.
The proposed ban on single-use plastic for takeaway orders in Hong Kong will tentatively begin in 2025 (© Peachyeung316 via Wiki Commons)

The Hong Kong government has recently doubled down on reducing the use of plastic in the city. In December 2022, authorities increased the fees charged for plastic bags from HK$0.5 to HK$1. This levy applies to mail-order and online retailers as well.

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In addition, shoppers no longer get free bags for food and drinks that come in sealed packaging, or fruit and vegetables wrapped in cling film or tissue.

Header image credits: Leung Cho Pan via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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