Reducing Food Waste in Hong Kong Schools
Early childhood education for sustainability, an emerging field, recognises that early learning is helpful for shaping children’s environmental beliefs, knowledge, and actions (UNESCO, 2008). It is, therefore, advisable to start teaching children to appreciate food at this stage of development. It is especially important to do this at school because, as the FOE’s (2015) findings indicate, ‘10% of commercial and industrial food waste comes from schools, with a quantity of 15,000 tons or over 30 million meal boxes a year’.
To address this problem, the government issued guidelines on meal arrangements in schools.
Some of the most important guidelines include:
Green lunch in school
Facilitates students to use reusable cutlery; to portion out food in a flexible manner; to monitor the provision of green lunch on an ongoing basis; and to apply for funding support from ECF for switching from using disposable lunch containers to central portioning of lunch at schools.
The EB also developed guidelines on how to promote green lunch in schools, to equip schools and school lunch suppliers with more information on how to be environmentally friendly. The EB concluded that from the waste reduction perspective, Central/On-Site Portioning is more desirable than Off-Site Portioning, because all the utensils are reusable, and the amount of food can be adjusted on request.
Local organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Green Power and Food for Good also provide seminars, workshops, and visits for schools and students. With supports from different departments and organisations, schools can reduce food waste.
First, lunch suppliers may increase the prices if they use metal or durable materials lunch boxes, these are more expensive.
Second, schools must be spacious enough to accommodate a canteen and the facilities needed for reheating food and washing dishes.
Consequently, the lunch price may be higher since lunch suppliers will need to invest in such facilities.
Additionally Epochhk points out that the guidelines are vague, lack a detailed directive, and do not put any constraints on schools and lunch providers.