the World Environment Day: DAB Survey on Plastic Utensils and Disposables for Dining

2018.6.3

Celebrated annually on the 5th of June, World Environment Day (WED) is one of the United Nation’s principal vehicles for encouraging global awareness and action for the protection of the environment. “Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for WED 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat the use of single-use or disposable plastic. As Hong Kong’s use of plastic utensils and other plastic disposables for dining continue to rise, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) has carried out this survey, in response to WED 2018, to better understand the city’s reliance on disposable plastic for dining, and to make recommendations on environmental protection measures.


Survey Method


Seven (7) major local fast food chains (Café de Coral, Fairwood, MX (Maxim’s fast-food), McDonalds, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Pacific Coffee and Starbucks)


Data collection︰


By purchasing takeout set lunches from the targeted fast food chain outlets.


Date of Survey︰


Late May 2018


Summary of Survey Results


1.Of the seven (7) fast food chains surveyed by takeout lunch purchases, different kinds of disposable plastic products were provided. They include: plastic bags, plastic utensils, plastic containers, plastic cups, plastic cup lids, plastic drinking straws and plastic stirrers.

2.The seven (7) fast food chains surveyed, ranked by in the order (from most to least) of disposable plastic products provided: Café de Coral, KFC, Fairwood, MX, Pacific Coffee, McDonalds, and Starbucks.

3.Take-out customers at all seven (7) fast food chains were given disposable plastic utensils and dining products without being asked whether they were needed.

Survey Analysis


1.The main reason why the surveyed fast food chains provide a variety of disposable plastic utensils and products is to provide convenience to customers — a means of attracting patronage.

2.All fast food chains we surveyed (i) assumed that all customers needed disposable plastic utensils and did not ask whether they were truly needed; (ii) did not ask customers whether they had bought their own food containers. It is due to the habitual operational practices of the fast food industry, that fast food operators simply assume every customer requires these utensils as a means to save time and increase customer flow.

Suggestions


With no time to lose in addressing the problem of plastic pollution, the DAB believes that all members of society must squarely face the problem together. The following are DAB’s suggestions for action:


1.Enterprises should disclose data on the amount of disposable plastic products issued and accept public scrutiny;

2.Enterprises should adopt the “not to provide plastic utensils and dining products” as their default operation practice;

3.Enterprises should provide discounts (incentives) for orders of “no plastic utensils”;

4.Strengthen outreach efforts and promotions on “Bring Your Own Utensils” (BYOU);

5.Advocate use of paper drinking straws;

6.The government to set a timetable to phase out the use of plastic utensils and dining products;

7.Enterprises should optimise their sales and operational processes to cater to customers who provide their own food containers.

Media Inquiries: DAB Legislative Councilor Gary Chan Hak-kan (7770-0829).



Subscribe

© 2020 by the DAB