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Four Things You Need to Know About the Single-use Plastic Ban 

From 22 April 2024, Hong Kong will take another significant step towards waste reduction by rolling out a two-phase ban on disposable plastic tableware and several single-use plastic products to encourage the use of environmentally friendly alternatives. Here are some basic facts which you need to know. 


Why is the ban necessary? 


It can take 20 to 500 years for plastics to decompose[1], during which they are reduced to microplastics. If these fragments are discharged into the sea, they will damage the marine ecosystem, enter the food chain and threaten your health.

In Hong Kong, 2,369 tonnes of plastics were dumped daily at landfills in 2022, accounting for 21% of municipal solid waste. Plastic tableware constitutes about 10% of the waste plastics[2].

What types of items will be banned, and when? 

The two-phase scheme bans the sale of 9 types of disposable plastic tableware and prohibits restaurants from providing them to customers. It also bans the sales and free distribution of a series of disposable plastic products.


Phase 1 (April 22, 2024)
Ban restaurants from providing disposable plastic tableware

  1. Expanded polystyrene tableware (dine-in, takeaway) 

  2. Straws (dine-in, takeaway) 

  3. Stirrers (dine-in, takeaway) 

  4. Forks, knives, spoons (dine-in, takeaway) 

  5. Plates (dine-in, takeaway) 

  6. Cups and lids (dine-in) 

  7. Food containers and covers (dine-in) 

Ban the sale and free distribution of disposable plastic products

  1. Tableware banned for both dine-in and takeaway

  2. Cotton buds

  3. Balloon sticks, inflatable cheer sticks, party hats

  4. Glow sticks

  5. Umbrella bags

  6. Food sticks and plastic toothpicks

  7. Oxo-degradable plastic products

  8. Toiletries and plastic-bottled water at hotels and guest houses, plastic-packaged tissue paper for promotional use, and non-medical use plastic gloves (ban free distribution only) 

Phase 2 (tentatively 2025)

  1. Expand the ban on disposable cups and lids, as well as food containers and covers from dine-in to takeaway

  2. Ban the sales and free distribution of disposable plastic products including multipack rings, tablecloths and plastic-stemmed dental floss

  3. Ban the free distribution of disposable plastic earplugs 

Will there be alternatives?

​There is no need to fear that common products will run out. The government clarified that cotton buds with stems made out of paper, wood, or bamboo will still be available, and the timing of phase 2 will depend on the availability and affordability of alternatives. 

Would I be penalized? 

The law targets businesses by banning their sales and distribution of the relevant products. The fixed penalty for violators is HK$2,000 and the maximum penalty is HK$100,000.

Citizens will not breach the law by purchasing or using the products, but they still have a big role to play in switching to alternatives. As a start, why not bring your cutlery when getting takeaway from restaurants, and check out info on alternatives HERE.

[1]United Nations, 

[2]Environmental Protection Department, Waste Statistics for 2022

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