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Eating with takeout utensils legal: environment chief

2024-02-26 HKT 17:53
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  • Eating with takeout utensils legal: environment chief
The Environmental Protection Department said on Monday that checks on 12,000 restaurants found that more than 10 percent of them had already ditched throwaway plastic products, ahead of a ban that takes effect on April 22.

Officials are visiting 20,000 small- and medium-sized businesses to help them prepare for the first phase of the ban on plastic tableware and items such as straws and stirrers.

The department’s assistant director Joanne Yung told a Legco panel meeting that some restaurants had already abandoned the use of plastic items.

“During the visits, we carefully examined which parts of the restaurant did not comply with the forthcoming regulations and then told them what needed to change. In the process, we found more than 10 percent had already switched to comply with the regulations,” she said.

“The main problems for the remaining restaurants are that they hope to use up remaining plastic products, and the question of where to find alternatives. We provided them with relevant information."

During the panel meeting, many lawmakers expressed concerns that people still do not know about the ban and more promotion is needed.

DAB lawmaker Edward Leung said that some low-income individuals might eat their meals in two separate sittings, and that using takeaway utensils to dine in might be considered illegal under the new legislation.

Tse Chin-wan, Secretary for Environment and Ecology, clarified that it’s legal to eat in restaurants with takeaway utensils, although not encouraged.

He stressed that the ban targets the sellers and suppliers of plastic products, so the public can still freely use any plastic products they already own.

“If people accidentally buy these regulated plastic products, they don't need to worry. Purchasing and using them do not violate the law,” he said.

“However, if you find any places selling these regulated goods, please report them to the authorities so that we can trace the source of the sale.”

Tse also said the administration would consider new regulations in future to address the use of plastic packaging by online shopping and delivery companies, but would take a step-by-step approach on the matter.

Eating with takeout utensils legal: environment chief