Family Life

Your Guide To Hong Kong’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

Understanding The Impact Of Hong Kong's New Plastic Regulations On Families

Your Guide To Hong Kong's Single-Use Plastic Ban Coming Into Effect Soon

Hong Kong has introduced new rules to help protect our environment by reducing plastic waste, perfectly timed to Earth Day 2024. Indeed, the theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Planet vs Plastics” and the Earth Day organization is unwavering in its commitment to ending plastics for the sake of human and planetary health, demanding a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. This new law in Hong Kong focuses on disposable plastic tableware and enhances programs that encourage manufacturers to be more responsible and is a welcome wakeup call for everyone – we should all be trying to do our bit for the planet.

Here’s what families should know about the changes:

Understanding the New Rules on Plastic Tableware

The government is introducing these rules in two main stages to make it easier for everyone to adapt:

  • Phase 1: Starting on April 22, 2024, the sale and use of certain small, hard-to-recycle plastic items like straws, plastic forks, knives, spoons, and plates, especially those made from expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam), will be stopped at places where we eat out. This means they won’t be available for both takeaway and dining in. Takeaway restaurants have started giving out wooden utensils, sometimes at a cost.
  • Phase 2: Later on, this ban will expand to include all nine types of specified disposable plastic tableware at eateries, covering everything from cups and their lids to food containers.

Other plastic products and what’s changing

The new law also targets other plastic items we often use, aiming to reduce waste and encourage the use of eco-friendly alternatives:

  • Phase 1: Items like cotton buds, balloon sticks, party hats, umbrella bags, food sticks and plastic toothpicks which have non-plastic alternatives, will no longer be sold or given away for free. Hotel and guesthouse toiletries, including plastic-handled toothbrushes, shower caps, razors, nail files, and products that come in disposable plastic containers will no longer be given out for free.
  • Phase 2: Expands the initial bans and adds more items to the list.

To help everyone adjust to these new rules, the Environmental Protection Department has set up a helpful website ( This site offers a list of over 400 eco-friendly tableware options and shares resources on tableware rental and cleaning services, encouraging us to choose reusable over disposable. For more eco-friendly product alternatives, click here.

Alternatively, when going out why not just bring your own cutlery along? Invest in some a cutlery travel cases like this one from IKEA or this one from Mothercare for the little ones.

Additionally, the law expands the recycling programs to include more items like larger electronics and simplifies some existing procedures to make recycling easier. These changes will start on July 1, 2024.

This new bill is a big step towards a cleaner, greener environment, and it’s exciting to see how these changes will help us all do our part in reducing plastic waste!

Additionally, starting in August 2024, the government will introduce a Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme (MSW) also known as the Waste Charging Scheme: following the “polluter-pays” principle, all waste generated by residential and non-residential premises, including commercial and industrial sectors, in Hong Kong will incur charges based on the amount of waste disposed of. All waste must be disposed of in designated bags or with designated labels. Instead, and to incur fewer fees, households and businesses are encouraged to recycle – the government is also upping its efforts to make recycling points more easily accessible to all. For more information about the Municipal Waste Charging Scheme, click here.

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