Eyes on PolyU

Reduce plastic waste during the pandemic

In many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives. Businesses, restaurants, and customers are switching focus to takeaway and food delivery services. The result is notable – our use of plastic takeaway boxes and single-use cutlery explode. It seems that many restaurants are not limiting the amount of plastic involved in takeout orders, and people have become more dependent on these disposables. A local green group said earlier more than 100 million pieces of disposable cutlery and plastic bags are disposed of every week now, leading to a jump in plastic waste.

We may not be able to put an immediate solution to end the pandemic, but there are many other things we can do. It’s time we come to think about how we set our priorities, and we should not bring an excuse to ourselves and generate more plastic waste than ever due to the pandemic.

 A huge volume of single-use items is given out for takeaways

One step could be relatively easy to start: let’s opt for our own reusable cutlery items with the pickup or delivery orders, which typically means getting a few less single-use plastic products. It is something easy to manage. Of course, it’s even better if we collect our food at the eateries using our own containers and cups. Having this in mind, PolyU consistently advocates the Plastic Free Friday pledge and reminds the campus community to remove the ‘big 5’ single-use plastic items: disposable cups, disposable cutleries, disposable lunchboxes, plastic bags, and straws from their daily habits and act more sustainably when dining. The University’s PolyU GreenCoin project also rewards those diners who bring in their own reusable food containers to campus canteens by giving them virtual credits to use or allowing them to redeem reusable cutlery sets and reusable snack boxes.

Get takeaways with reusable containers and enjoy them with our own cutlery

At times when we do our shopping in supermarkets or when we get our pickups from restaurants, why not get our bags along and stop taking excessive disposable packaging and plastic bags? It is another call from the University for years, and workshops on designing tote bags and talks on Bring-Your-Own-Bag were repeatedly arranged in the past by the Campus Sustainability Office to reinforce this message. 

Past workshop by the Campus Sustainability Office on designing reusable tote bags

As our understanding of the impacts of plastic on the health of our planet and our communities continues to grow, it is increasingly clear that we need to make changes in our dining and consumption patterns to mitigate the environmental cost of our actions. When we are busy confronting a global health crisis, let's not forget the threatening crisis that our environment faces.

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