, Hong Kong
Photo by Magda Ehlers

Gov't greenlights bill regulating plastic products

The bill prohibits the sale and use of 9 types of disposable plastics.

The Legislative Council passed the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2023, which regulates disposable plastic tableware and other plastic products. 

The bill prohibits the sale of nine types of disposable plastics and prohibits catering establishments from providing customers with such products.

These plastics include expanded polystyrene tableware, straws, stirrers, cutlery (forks, knives, and spoons), plates, cups, cup lids, food containers, and food container covers.

There will be two phases of regulation to this bill, with the proposed implementation of the first phase set on 22 April 2024.

In the first phase, the government will ban the sale of expanded polystyrene tableware and four other types that are small in size and difficult to recycle or to which there are alternatives. The rule also applies to takeaway customers.

In addition, the provision of all nine types of disposable plastic tableware to dine-in customers at catering premises will be outlawed.

In the second phase, the ban for all nine types of products will be expanded to cover the sale to end-customers, as well as the provision at catering premises to both dine-in and takeaway customers.

Other products

The bill will also regulate the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of disposable plastic products in two phases.

In the first phase, the sale and provision of cotton buds, balloon sticks, inflatable cheer sticks, glow sticks, party hats, oxo-degradable plastic products, umbrella bags, food sticks, and plastic toothpicks will be prohibited.

At the same time, hotels and guesthouses will be prohibited from providing disposable toiletries and in-room plastic-bottled water for free, while distributing non-medical use transparent gloves and plastic-packaged tissue paper for promotional use will also be banned.

In the second phase, the government will prohibit the sale and free distribution of multipack rings, tablecloths, plastic-stemmed dental floss, and ear plugs.

The second-phase regulation is tentatively set for 2025. The effective date will depend on the availability and affordability of the relevant non-plastic or reusable alternatives.

The public is encouraged to use eco-friendly alternatives. The Green Tableware Platform has listed over 400 non-plastic disposable tableware for public reference. Last month, the government also launched the Bring Your Containers Eateries Scheme, which now has 350 participating restaurants.

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