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Ditch Disposables 101

The Plastic Problem

Ditch Disposable is a campus-wide campaign launched in 2017 as part of the Disposable Plastic Free Policy  to reduce plastic waste across campus. 

Disposable plastic is cheap, convenient and used every day, yet the majority of it ends up in landfills or the natural environment, releasing toxins, and harming wildlife and eventually us. Globally we produce more than 300 million tons of plastic a year, half of which is intended for single-use.

We could be eating plastics on a daily basis. Despite a negligible impact on human health at current intake levels, researchers suggest that as global plastic waste continues growing, our ingestion level will increase. They also warn us about the health risks associated with microplastics, which are hard to detect and currently understudied. These small particles (≤1.5 µm) could penetrate capillaries and enter human organs.

Plastics also cause harm to wildlife through ingestion, entanglement and toxicological influence. Wildlife may mistakenly ingest plastic debris as they feed, or ingest them through the food chain.

Campaign Timeline

1 Jul, 2017

Policy On Disposable Plastic Bottles Comes Into Effect

The policy on disposable plastic bottles ended the sale and distribution of disposable plastic water bottles of 1 litre or less on campus. To support the policy, the University installed new state of the art water dispensers across campus, bringing the total number of dispensers to over 90.

2 Sep, 2018

Policy On Disposable Plastic Straws Comes Into Effect

From 3 September 2018, HKU banned single use plastic straws from being distributed in centrally managed catering outlets, except in emergencies or medical circumstances.

Sep, 2020

Disposable Plastic Free Campus Policy

From September 2020, ten different types of disposable single-use plastics will no longer be allowed to be sold or distributed across the University of Hong Kong's campuses or events.

Items banned and items not covered under the policy:

Policy Items
Items banned under the policy
Items not covered under the policy
Disposable plastic carrier bags
Reusable carrier bags brought by customers
Disposable plastic plates
Non-plastic plates
Disposable plastic cultleries
Reusable or non-plastic cutleries
Disposable plastic containers
Reusable or non-plastic disposable boxes; Prepackaged food items with plastic packaging; Food contained in paper boxes with plastic windows.
Disposable plastic stirrers
Reusable or non-plastic disposable stirrers
Disposable plastic food and beverage container lids
Paper beverage and food container lids
Disposable plastic cups
Reusable or paper cups
Disposable plastic straws
Non-plastic straws
Bottles of 1 litre or less in volume
Single use plastic bottled drinks of 1L or less
Any bottled drinks >1L, or drinks ≤1L with non-plastic containers
Plastic backdrops and banners of all types including hanging banners, pop up banners, and wind flags that are used for promotion of and as decoration during events or campaigns lasting less than 5 days
Electronic banners or non-plastic banners; Plastic banners that are used for promotion or decorations of events lasting more than 5 days.

Useful materials

1. Reusable straws comparison

straw comparison.png

2. Green Event Guidebook

The University of Hong Kong has pledged to support the Green Event Guidebook published by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). HKU event organisers are advised to follow these guidelines when organising events.

3. Plastics Alternatives


  1. Use fountain beverage machines and reusable cups.

  2. For events, use pitchers or containers larger than one litre, provide reusable cups too!

  3. Use metal cans, glass bottles for single use when reusable options are not possible.

  4. Use one of the over 90 free water dispensers on campus, or get free water at a participating catering outlet.


  1. Use social media and online methods to promote your event or programme.

  2. Create a single banner with your organisation's logo that can be reused at a variety of different events.


  1. Use straws that are made of materials other than disposable plastics, such as: - Metal - Glass - Bamboo - Silicone - Reusable BPA-free plastic - Edible - Paper (If disposables are really needed)


  1. Reusable cups

  2. If using of paper cups is needed, users should be encouraged to rinse and recycle them if they are not contaminated by oily beverage.


  1. Do not provide lid with cups.

  2. If lid is really need - use paper lid.

  3. Bring a reusable tumbler or cup with a lid for takeaway drinks.


  1. Reusable stirrers


  1. Reusable containers such as glass, ceramic, silicone, BPA-free plastic, stainless steel

  2. If reusable is not possible - use paper boxes or wax paper

  3. If using of paper containers is needed, users should be encouraged to recycle them if they are not contaminated by food.


  1. Dine-in and avoid takeaways.

  2. Use reusable cutlery.

  3. If disposables are really needed, use wood or bamboo cutlery.


  1. Use plates made from reusable materials, such as ceramic plates.

  2. If disposables are really needed, use paper plates.


  1. Use reusable bags

  2. Remind participants and customers to bring their own reusable bags.

  3. If using of paper bags is needed, users should be encouraged to recycle them if they are not contaminated by food.

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