Hong Kong’s environmental chief urges public to support single-use plastic ban, insisting the intention is not to punish traders

Hong Kong’s environmental chief has urged the public to support a citywide ban on single-use plastics, which comes into effect on Monday. He stressed that the measure aims to build sustainable practices rather than penalize traders.

Environment and Ecology Minister Tse Chin-wan also said on Sunday that the government would only take enforcement action against companies that ignored repeated warnings after the end of a six-month grace period, and urged companies to use up their stock soon. products will be banned in the coming months to prevent waste.

Is Hong Kong ready for a ban on single-use plastics from next month?

The new restrictions affect Styrofoam products and disposable utensils such as cutlery and straws at takeaways.

Environment chief Tse Chin-wan says companies should not worry too much about the ban. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“The aim is to gradually build a ‘plastic-free’ culture in society. It is not our intention to punish traders. We understand that this requires changing habits and that the sector needs time to adapt its activities to comply with the restrictions,” Tse said in his blog.

“We strive to provide appropriate guidance during implementation. We prioritize education and handle individual cases humanely. The sector doesn’t have to worry too much about that.”

Hong Kong can extend the grace period for the plastic ban that takes effect on Monday: minister

Tse emphasized that building a plastic-free culture could protect the environment and safeguard the lives of future generations. He urged the public to reduce their use of single-use plastic products.

Under the first phase of the ban, single-use plastic cups and boxes will no longer be available to dine-in customers. Products with non-plastic alternatives, such as cotton swabs, umbrella covers and glow sticks, are also covered by the directive.

Hotels and guesthouses are prohibited from providing free toiletries in disposable synthetic packaging and free in-room water in plastic bottles.

Tse urged companies to use up their stock of banned products within the six-month grace period to avoid waste.

He said government officials will not take enforcement action against operators who violate regulations for the next six months and will only prosecute those who repeatedly ignored warnings after the end of the grace period.

Restaurants in Hong Kong are serving all kinds of utensils to adapt to the plastic ban

“We will first try to understand the situation and difficulties of individual traders, and then educate, promote, advise or warn them accordingly,” he said.

Authorities would inspect 20,000 eateries, as well as 20,000 shops and guesthouses, to help operators comply with the ban, and also explain the restrictions to tourists at the airport and other border checkpoints, he added.

Spotted seals at Ocean Park can relax near an Earth Day-themed ice sculpture. Photo: Ocean Park

Ocean Park also urged the public to reduce plastic consumption, with the ban coming into effect on Earth Day.

The theme park said it would also celebrate Earth Day by offering workshops for children, while visitors could learn about the importance of protecting biodiversity in animal exhibits.