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New measures to limit plastic: restaurants in Beijing, Hong Kong and other places try not to offer straws voluntarily


At the start of the New Year, leading Hong Kong fast food chain diners stopped handing out plastic drinking tubes at 164 stores and encouraged customers to bring their own tableware. "When many customers come into the store and see the poster promoting 'no drinking tube every day', they will ask for 'walking tube' (cantonese means no drinking tube) when they pay the bill." "Said zhang rong, the store manager.

McDonald's began a pilot program of "no straw lid" and "no straw voluntary" at 10 restaurants in Beijing last November to encourage consumers to reduce the use of plastic straws.

At present, reducing the use of straws has gradually become a consensus and attracted more and more people to participate.

The restaurant does not offer straws voluntarily, and advocates consumers not to use straws as much as possible

"The tall, thin one is shabber. He always comes to help with his business, and always brings his own tableware." Zhang rong told reporters that in recent years, from the introduction of "no drinking tube day" every Friday to the addition of "drinking tube" option to the mobile phone ordering program, the company has tried out "plastic" several times.

In November, another Hong Kong food giant, big gay group, stopped offering plastic straws at all its Hong Kong restaurants. "Happy New Year! Please 'walk the pipe' when eating in our restaurant. Thank you for your support to environmental protection!" Li yuxia, a cashier, was alerting customers to the need to reduce their plastic weight when we saw her at the store in the western district of Hong Kong.

"The vast majority of our customers are very understanding, and some will praise us for being environmentally conscious and doing a good job." "Said li yuxia. During the lunch period of nearly two hours, the reporter found that all the customers in the restaurant basically chose not to use straws.

In Hong Kong, the Ocean Park conservation fund launched the "no pipe campaign" in June last year, which was supported by more than 20 major restaurant chains and involved hundreds of fast food restaurants. "More and more organisations and enterprises are willing to respond to us, which is a great motivation," said ms Chen qing, chairman of the conservation fund.

"Drinking with a straw and eating instant noodles with a fork are long-established consumption habits, which may upset some consumers if they are not provided." Yu xuerong, executive chairman of jiangsu catering industry association, said that it is necessary to guide consumption habits in a positive and reasonable way, and actively cultivate and promote consumers' environmental protection concept of eating, such as advocating drinking beverages without straws, and innovating beverage packaging to facilitate direct drinking.

"It is certainly more effective for businesses to be involved than to rely on government guidance, but the process also requires consumer participation. "Consumers should not overspend, not use when they can, and reduce the use of plastic by bringing their own tableware and using sterilizing tableware." Yang zhongyi, a professor at the school of life sciences at sun yat-sen university.

Plastic straws that last only a few minutes can degrade naturally over hundreds of years

"We often ask for 'ice walking' or 'sugar walking' when we order drinks in restaurants, but we can hardly think of 'drink walking'." The Ocean Park conservation fund of Hong Kong has launched a number of advertising campaigns in recent years. The images and statistics of "plastic waste" are thought-provoking. According to the fund's latest survey, the average person in Hong Kong aged 15 to 59 USES 5.73 plastic straws per week.

However, plastic straws, which last only a few minutes, take hundreds of years to degrade naturally. Once a large number of plastic straws are not handled effectively, it will cause damage to the natural environment and human health.

"Straws are mostly used in the food and beverage industry. They are mainly made of polypropylene, which has the advantage of being heat-resistant, being able to withstand temperatures up to 130 ° c. They are plastic that can be put into a microwave oven, so they can be used for hot drinks." Huang ying, an associate professor at the school of energy and environment at southeast university, said that polypropylene has a good chemical stability. Apart from being eroded by concentrated sulfuric acid and nitric acid, it is relatively stable to all kinds of other chemical reagents, so the straw is extremely difficult to degrade naturally.

Does that mean there's nothing people can do about plastic straws breaking down? Low-molecular weight aliphatic hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons and chlorinated hydrocarbons soften and swell polypropylene, which can be chemically degraded when collected into plastic straws, huang explained.

However, the current recycling situation of straw is not optimistic. Sammi analysis, although a lot of plastic straws are made from recycled pp, but the market of plastic straws have different thickness, hardness, color, add the composition is complicated, not only material is good and bad are intermingled, compared with mineral water bottles and cans, plastic straws on collection difficulty, the cost is high, just put the same texture and color sorting together is not easy; Plus straw itself belongs to small products, recycling business enthusiasm is not high.

Yu Xuerong tells a reporter, although the promotion of biodegradable materials in tableware is steady progress, but the current limit through a straw has not yet been carried out in many places, one of the biggest reason is that no research and development and produce a large quantity of plastic straw can replace completely material, can not only satisfy the requirement of high quality and low price, and have a certain heat cold resistance, etc. At present, some places launched corn straw, paper straw or other natural degradation straw, or because of the high research and development and production costs, or because the quality is not fully meet the use requirements, large-scale use is still difficult.

Improve design, change habits, reduce the use of disposable tableware

"The drinking pipe is one of the most closely related plastic products to the life of the public. "Sometimes I see people using a lot of plastic tableware in just a few minutes," cheung kin-chung, chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong SAR government, told reporters.

According to the press release, the hksar government is actively studying measures to reduce waste, including introducing a producer responsibility system for plastic beverage bottles, collecting waste plastic at government epd sites, and ending the sale of plastic bottled water under 1 litre at government sites. The environmental protection department, the environmental campaign committee and the federation of the Hong Kong catering industry have reached a cooperation agreement to implement publicity, public education and pilot projects in phases across the territory from this year to raise public awareness of "shaping".

Huang ying believes that the limited use of straw is a positive and beneficial attempt in the context of plastic limit, plastic reduction will have a demonstration significance.

"The pipe is the first step." The head of the chain said it was looking into replacing existing plastic forks and spoons with a "two-in-one" design to reduce the number of dishes used in takeaway dishes. According to the head of big happy group, the company will gradually replace plastic straws with paper straws while stopping the distribution of straws, and expects the consumption of plastic tableware in all branches of the chain to drop by 15% after the conversion.

"We have a long way to go and the support of the community is vital." According to the secretary for the environment of the Hong Kong SAR government, wong kam-sing, "plastic walking across the board" still faces many difficulties, such as the increasing cost of catering enterprises, the lack of supporting facilities for plastic recycling, the disagreement between the industry and environmentalists, and the slow change of people's habits.

Huang ying believes that the relevant departments, industry associations and other should increase the publicity of the plastic limit order. At present, disposable plastic products commonly used in the takeaway industry and catering industry have seriously increased the environmental burden. Therefore, the government, the association must guide the enterprise and the consumer to reduce the disposable plastic product production and the consumption. For enterprises, they should follow the trend and consensus of environmental protection and produce disposable products that are easy to be degraded or recycled as much as possible.

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