Restaurants act to reduce plastic usage

Restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong are banning drinking straws in a bid to reduce the use of disposable plastic.

Café de Coral, a fast food restaurant group in Hong Kong, has already banned the use of straws across 164 stores and encourages customers to bring their own dishware.

In November 2018, 10 MacDonald’s restaurants in Beijing also stopped offering plastic straws to customers. On the whole, customers have accepted the green consumption mode.

The campaign to eliminate the use of plastic straws was rolled out by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong last June, and has already gained the support from more than 20 large-scale restaurant chains. The activity calls on restaurants to stop offering straws to customers completely, or gradually implement the changes, for example by banning straws on the 8th day of each month, or every Friday.

Yu Xuerong, executive director of the Jiangsu Dining Association, said the campaign could upset some people who have difficulty changing their habits, noting that restaurants should properly guide people while improving drinks packaging so that people can drink without using straws.

According to a survey by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, Hong Kong residents aged between 15 and 59 years old use 5.73 straws on average per person per week. The total number of straws used in the region every year is an enormous 1.44 billion.

However, it takes more than 100 years to dissolve these plastic straws. If not properly disposed of, this plastic can impact the environment and people’s health.

Huang Ying, an energy and environment professor with Southeast University, said reducing the use of straws is an effective move towards phasing out plastic completely.

However, there is still a long way to go, as plastic-free consumption could cause a rise in cost for catering enterprises. Other issues, such as a lack of recycling facilities, disagreements on the plastic-free mode between industry insiders and environmental protectors, as well as the long and arduous process of changing behavior, make the campaign more difficult than it seems, said Environment Secretary of Hong Kong Wong Kam-sing.