Hongkongers are throwing away 400 million disposable coffee cups per year, according to survey results released by environmental group Greenpeace on Monday.

The group urged authorities to develop a system for people to borrow reusable tableware at eateries, as it was more welcomed by respondents compared to cleaning and recycling utensils.

Greenpeace reusable coffee cups
Leanne Tam introduced Greenpeace’s reusable cup circulation trial scheme on Monday. Photo: Greenpeace.

On behalf of Greenpeace, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute interviewed 1,005 adults by phone last month.

The survey found that 37 per cent of the respondents have the habit of buying takeaway coffee, averaging three cups weekly. Based on the figure, Greenpeace inferred that the entire population in Hong Kong disposed 400 million coffee cups each year.

Half of the interviewees said they definitely would not clean and recycle disposable utensils, while only nine per cent said they would certainly do so.

Just three per cent said they would definitely bring their own containers when buying takeaway.

In comparison, Greenpeace said a proposal for restaurants to lend reusable meal boxes or cups, and clean the utensils after being returned by customers, was more welcomed by respondents.

Greenpeace reusable coffee cups
Photo: Greenpeace.

16 per cent of interviewees said they would certainly use such service, while 12 per cent said they were inclined to do so. Another 27 per cent said they might use it half the time.

Circulation of reusable tableware

In response to the survey results, Leanne Tam, a campaign manager at Greenpeace, said in a statement released by the group on Monday that the new Environment and Ecology Bureau should learn from overseas experiences and develop a system to allow the use of reusable tableware.

“Under the pandemic, Hong Kong is discarding 266 tonnes of disposable plastic utensils daily – a historical record… but the Environmental Protection Department still does not have a regulation timeframe,” Tam said.

Greenpeace reusable coffee cups
Leanne Tam introduced Greenpeace’s reusable cup circulation trial scheme on Monday. Photo: Greenpeace.

Greenpeace announced that from Friday, it would launch a trial scheme in collaboration with six cafes in Sheung Wan, as well as a local start-up company, to offer reusable cups for customers to borrow when buying takeaway coffee.

Consumers would have to download an app and link their credit cards to it when borrowing a cup, and they have to pay HK$80 in compensation if they fail to return the cup in seven days, the group said.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.