Reducing Styrofoam Waste from Schools


This paper outlines the measures adopted which aim at reducing styrofoam waste from schools.


2. At the meeting of the Environmental Affairs (EA) Panel on 15 October 1998, Members were concerned that, with the implementation of whole-day primary school scheme, students would eat lunch at schools. This would likely increase the use of styrofoam lunch boxes and hence the quantity of styrofoam waste.

3. Styrofoam is made from non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals. It degrades extremely slowly, releases hazardous chemicals on incineration and causes visual nuisance when littered. In 1998, some 120 tonnes of styrofoam waste were disposed of at our landfills each day, with about 80% being food and drink containers. Recycling of styrofoam products is not economical. The foremost strategy lies in reduction.

Reducing Styrofoam Food Containers in Schools

4. Following the discussion at the EA Panel, a working group comprising Education Department (ED), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Environmental Campaign Committee representatives was formed. The following measures have been agreed:

  1. EPD would distribute leaflets promoting the use of less styrofoam lunch boxes in schools.

  2. ED would keep in view the need to make provision for catering facilities in new whole-day school buildings and for any renovation of existing school buildings.

  3. EPD would continue to monitor the development of alternative materials to stryofoam.

  4. EPD would consider measures to encourage caterers to use environmentally friendly food containers and tableware. The Waste Reduction Committee will assist in this regard.

5. Separately, after the launch of the Waste Reduction Framework Plan in November 1998, the Director of Environmental Protection wrote to schools together with waste reduction promotion materials to raise school principals' awareness of the problem.

6. In addition, the Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC) has been meeting with school personnel on a regular basis. Reducing the use of styrofoam lunch boxes is among the issues discussed during such sessions. Various suggestions have been made, including

  1. using reusable tableware;

  2. encouraging students to bring their own lunch; and

  3. providing tableware washing facilities in schools.

7. ECC will continue to promote awareness of the issue among school administrators during its environmental education and awareness programmes which include workshops, student environmental protection ambassadors' camps and environmental drama. EPD will continue its efforts in publicizing the need to reduce the use of styrofoam products.

Advice Sought

8. Members are invited to note the contents of this paper.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
June 1999