Hong Kong government considers extending grace period for single-use plastics ban

Tse Chin-wan

20th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) As Hong Kong prepares to implement its ban on single-use plastics, Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Tse Chin-wan, has indicated that the initial six-month grace period for the ban may be extended. This adjustment would allow restaurants and suppliers additional time to deplete their existing inventories of plastic products. The first phase of this policy, which includes a prohibition on styrofoam products and disposable utensils like cutlery and straws at takeaway venues, as well as single-use plastic cups and boxes for dine-in customers, is set to commence this Monday.

During a television interview on Saturday, Tse expressed openness to extending the grace period if necessary. “Our overall approach is hoping to help the industry eliminate plastics. So if we really see any reason for an extension after six months, we are happy to consider it,” he stated. However, he also mentioned that six months should suffice for restaurants to exhaust their stock of single-use plastics, and for wholesalers to redirect their remaining supplies to markets abroad.

Tse reassured that the legislation would not affect travellers bringing single-use plastics into Hong Kong for personal use, thus maintaining a degree of flexibility for the public.

In a separate television appearance, Tse also advocated for the adoption of eco-friendlier alternatives such as paper and wooden cutlery. He highlighted the practicality of these materials, noting that wooden knives are sturdier and less prone to breaking compared to their plastic counterparts. “I didn’t find the plastic knives were very easy to use. I tried them all and they would break if I applied too much force. On the contrary, the wooden knives are sturdier, less susceptible to breaking. I don’t see a huge difference in usability,” he explained.