Kong-sized waste

Hefty plate waste after eating out isn’t just an American specialty. Thanks to its abundance of restaurants and hotels, wasted food comprises one third of Hong Kong’s landfill space. (The US average is about 12 percent.)

To reduce their food waste, local eateries have implemented an interesting idea–fining buffet diners for uneaten food. Voice of America News reports that 30 restaurants employ tactics like charging $1.30 per uneaten sushi at an “all you can eat” sushi place.

Local environmentalists Green Student Council surveyed diners and discovered these startling data:

“…we find that about 87 percent of them always left some food behind,” Ho says. “So we also find that 44 percent of these respondents say that they often left over 30 percent or more.”

It’s not shocking that in an economic capital like Hong Kong, restaurateurs have created an innovative “pay for what you don’t eat” system. That or charging a per-pound cost for buffet plates seem like better options than the standard “all you can eat” model. As that name suggests, it usually results in overeating and wasted food from half-eaten plates.

The article also touches on how Hong Kong’s Festival Walk mall uses a digester to reduce the volume of their daily 1.8 tons of food waste they send to landfills. This flurry of waste-related news may warrant a research trip–anything to get to Hong Kong’s dim sum palaces and buffets! If I do go, however, I promise to choose wisely to avoid being fined.

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  1. An
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Being from HK, I can definitely sympathise with the over exuberant amounts of food available, even on a single plate of food.

    The pay for what’s left over charge is nothing new, although it’s probably not picking up as much as we’d like for other reasons.

    Culturally, there is not-so-good (negative) connotation with doggy-bagging food from a meal, especially on business meals. So it’s fairly often to see a large amount of food left over from a restaurant set course meal, and to see it thrown away.
    I know within my extended family there’s rarely waste and we doggy-bagging, but still there are just large amounts of food leftover still.

    I wonder if they’d offer 2 size meals – a regular and a mega size. So there’s a chance for most of the people to eat the smaller portion.

    Another thing I notice is a abundance of “set” meals – so you can get a 3 course meal cheaper than an a la carte (menu) based main. When I mean 3 course I mean daily soup/appetiser, main and a drink (usually popular non-alcohol drinks). That’s a pretty good deal – but unless you have a giant stomach, some of it is going to waste.

  2. Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s a very important topic and overlooked by so many writers, even professionals. I appreciate your help getting people more aware of that subject.