Chapter 3. What should we do?

Plastic waste constitutes 21% of total MSW disposal in Hong Kong. We need to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. To alleviate plastic pollution, action should be taken in line with the Waste Hierarchy below, where waste prevention should be the most preferred option and disposal being the least.

PREVENTION

  • Cease the use of non-essential and hard-to-recycle products
  • Replace plastics by reusable alternatives

REUSE

  • Despite the material limitation of single-use plastics, to reuse an item as far as possible

RECYCLE and RECOVERY

  • Clean recycling, separate recyclables by category and take recyclables to proper recycling points
  • Buy/use items that can be easily separated and recycled, and select products with recycled content

Proper Disposal

  • Proper disposal to avoid littering in the natural environment e.g. take your litter home at hiking

Objectives of this public engagement

There are many types of single-use plastic products widely in use in our daily lives. We need to control the use of these products as appropriate. However, some products cannot be phased out, at least in the near future, due to human health and well-being issues (e.g. medical syringe, PPE items) in particular when the whole world is combating the COVID-19 pandemic, or there is no reasonable alternative. For this reason, this PE focuses on ‘non-essential’ and ‘hard-to-recycle’ single-use plastics. In considering whether a product is essential, its functional purpose and how the public perceives its importance should be taken into account.

The Government has just completed Public Consultations on PRS on Plastic Beverage Containers and the Scheme on Regulation of Disposable Plastic Tableware. Also, it is generally accepted by the community that single-use plastic in health and protective equipment is important and essential. Hence, these items will not be the main focus of the present public engagement.

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This exercise aims to provide every member of the community with information on the subject of plastics and explore relevant issues with a view to identifying ways to move away from non-essential and hard-to-recycle single-use plastic items, which include:

  1. Which single-use plastic products to tackle, the approach of managing them and the timeline, e.g.:
    • Views on the management priority;
    • Views on the approach on management, e.g. voluntary measures, regulation, etc.
Let's Go Green
  1. Explore ways to go green from consumer angle with a view to revolutionising the market, e.g.:
    • Views on degree of public acceptance (e.g. willingness to bear additional cost for reducing the use of single-use plastics, acceptable range of additional cost, etc.);
    • Views on choosing which “greener” products (e.g. re-use potential, green packaging, the brand’s “corporate environmental responsibility”, etc.)

During the PE process, we will arrange extensive discussion with different sectors as well as the public to understand the suitable approach for moving towards a “plastic-free” society. The views collected will allow the Government to design suitable tools for controlling single-use plastic products.

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