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Green Team Survey on the Use of Reusable Containers

In Spring 2016, the HKUST Green Team launched a project on promoting the use of reusable containers for takeaways. It aims at reducing the university’s waste production from disposable containers and promoting a greener lifestyle.

The Green Team proposed two different schemes in encouraging the community to have their own takeout containers. The first proposal is to provide incentives for consumers, such as cash discounts or free drinks. The second proposal would introduce a “Container Borrowing” system, where reusable containers would be used for takeaways. After the meal, consumers could return the containers to certain collection points for cleaning and reusing.

In order to have a better understanding on people’s consumption of takeout containers and views towards the two proposals, the Green Team conducted a survey in late May.

In total, over 1,300 responses were received. The respondents included UG students (49%), staff (36%) and PG students (14%).  According to the survey results, only 19% of the respondents have used their own containers for takeaways. Unfortunately, over 70% said they were not aware of the current $1 discount for using reusable containers for takeaways at some of the catering outlets.  This suggests there might be some ample room for improvement.

For the first proposal of providing incentives, 84% of the respondents supported the implementation of the project in order to lessen the burden on landfills.  Among all the incentives listed, a $3-discount and free drinks/desserts were the two most attractive. Over 70% of the interviewees stated that they would be more likely to bring their own takeout containers for both of these incentives. In addition, nearly 70% of respondents were also more likely to change their habits if they have to pay $3 for using disposable containers.

On the other hand, 62% of respondents would consider using reusable containers if a “Container Borrowing” system was launched. However, hygiene is the largest concern (85%), followed by convenience of collection points (45%). Moreover, a $3-discount (71%) and free drinks/desserts (68%) were the most effective incentives for people to join the scheme. 66% of respondents would also consider joining if the collection points were convenient. Furthermore, 83% of respondents would support the second proposal as a means to help reduce the waste.

Through this survey, we have collected a lot of precious views and comments from the university community. We thus have a deeper understanding of the interviewees’ behaviors and altitudes towards the use of reusable containers.

Additionally, we have a better idea on how to promote this green lifestyle to our community. Thank you for all your participations. Let’s look forward to the green changes in our community, and please remember, the HKUST Green Team is open to all members of our community.  We welcome anyone interested in helping us make HKUST a more vibrant, friendly, and sustainable campus.

If you want to be part of the HKUST Green Team and contribute to build a sustainable campus, sign up and join us now!


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