#Hashtag Hong Kong



    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



    Simon Wong, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades


    As the government has announced the “ Waste Blueprint for HK 2035 “ to tackle the challenge of waste management as well as to build a circular economy and a sustainable green living environment, “Waste Reduction” is on the top priority list. The government has proposed a measure to regulate disposable plastic tableware in phases. The Amendment Bill for the first phase of regulation was thus passed in March 2023 and will be in force on April 22, 2024.


    Under the Regulation, nine types of disposable plastic tableware would be introduced.


    In the first phase under the Regulation, EPS tableware, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates are prohibited to sell to end-consumers and prohibited to provide by catering premises to customers for dine-in and takeaway services. The other disposable plastic tableware such as plates, cups food containers etc, will come into force in the second phase, but the date of implementation has yet to be determined.


    There are a few issues which the catering industry is concerned upon the introduction of the ban on using plastic disposable materials. The catering industry at first worried if there were alternative products to substitute the plastic tableware, and whether those environmental substitutes would increase the operating cost.


    Accordingly, if we look at the website of the Environmental Protection Department, we find that at the moment 64 companies are carrying 737 items which cover a wide range of non-plastic disposable tableware. Restaurant operators do have a lot of varieties to choose from which would suit their needs.


    However, many restaurant operators are, at the moment, not eager to use non-plastic tableware as the government is giving a six-month grace period to the trade, such that operators will not be fined if they do not follow the regulation on and after April 22. On the other hand, it would give enough time for importers and wholesalers as well as retailers to consume or or deal with their inventories within the allowable period. This period would also offer more time for the catering industry to find more suitable products to suit their budget and needs.


    In general, the cost of environmentally disposable products is about 20-30% more expensive than the plastic ones. Take the straws for example, a few cents increase seems not much for each straw, but it can translate to a substantial percentage increase when large quantities of straws are to be consumed. Since almost all non-plastic disposable products are imported, importers and wholesalers are not willing to take the risk of keeping too much stock in their warehouses at the moment. However, we believe that costs will come down when all restaurants have adopted the practice due to the larger quantity imports.


    Another concern is the quality of the substitutes. Those non-plastic substitutes are commonly made of paper, bamboo, softwood, wood pulp and plant fibre materials. Though there are a lot of choices for each type of utensil, the quality of the product varies. Some customers have complained that the paper straws or spoons cannot sustain in higher temperatures nor cannot be put in liquid for too long as they will become soft. Of course, we can find better quality products in the market, but the cost will then be higher.


    As the date for launching is drawing near, the catering industry has thought of ways to deal with the situation. Large restaurant groups, such as fast food chains, hotels and high-end restaurants have started using non-plastic utensils. Even though the cost, in general, is higher, they are willing to do so as it’s a social responsibility to compile with the ESG initiative. Some restaurants simply do not provide disposable utensils, but charge customers upon their request. Some restaurants or coffee shops have started to encourage customers to bring their utensils; in such cases, restaurants will save on the cost of providing the materials, while customers do not need to pay additional to the restaurants for getting non-plastic disposable tableware.


    There are about 18,000 restaurant outlets in HK, and 98% of those are small and medium-sized enterprises. With the present gloomy economic environment, these SMEs would be very cautious about the increased expenses if environmental products are used. However, I would suggest to them to use more reusable products to lower their cost and not provide the disposable utensils to customers.


    After all, the bill has passed, we, as an individual should do more for the environment. I also believe that education and publicity are vital means to pass the message to the public. The government should without any hesitation, launch more programs and publicities to educate the public how to deal with the change of living habits as well as to let people understand our environment is at risk if we do not act now.


    I'd like to share this song with you all this morning, I want to dedicate "Somewhere over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland. Thank you for listening.

    21/04/2024 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    21/04/2024 - Simon Wong, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades


    02 - 04


    Simon Wong, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades


    Ryan Yeung, Founder and CEO, Happy-Retired Charity Action


    Erica Lee, Director, The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association


    Christina Lee, Director of Wofoo Social Enterprises


    Joe Lo, Convenor of The Long Term Tobacco Policy Concern Group


    Fiona Nott, CEO of The Women's Foundation


    Innocent Mutanga, Founder and CEO of Africa Center Hong Kong


    Professor Edwin Ho, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) researcher in the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    Professor Edwin Chan, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) researcher from CUHK

    My name is Edwin Ho Yin CHAN, and I am a professor and an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) researcher in the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since 1999, I have been dedicated to researching the pathobiology of rare neurological disorders that affect the nervous system. My ultimate goal is to translate my basic research into therapeutic treatments for these devastating diseases.
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects the nerve cells responsible for voluntary muscle movements such as walking and talking. These nerve cells, known as motor neurons, can be divided into two groups. The upper motor neurons extend from the brain to the spinal cord, while the lower motor neurons extend from the spinal cord to the muscles. ALS gradually deteriorates and kills both groups of motor neurons, leading to a loss of muscle function.
    While the cause of ALS is unknown for the majority of cases, about 10% of individuals with ALS have a genetic cause that can be identified. How does ALS impact daily life? ALS has a significant impact on mobility, breathing, communication, and mental well-being. These symptoms progressively worsen over time. Muscle weakness is a common manifestation of ALS, particularly in the limbs. This weakness, primarily affecting the arms and legs, can hinder mobility and coordination. Initially, the distal muscles, such as those in the hands, feet, calves, and forearms, are typically affected. Upper limb weakness can make tasks like writing difficult, while lower limb weakness often impairs walking. Breathing difficulties are common in individuals with ALS due to weakness in the chest and diaphragm muscles, leading to chronic respiratory failure. This weakness in the respiratory system can result in breathing problems and frequent lung infections. Eventually, some individuals may require a ventilator to assist with breathing. Cognitive decline is another aspect of ALS, with approximately half of patients experiencing brain-related and behavioral changes at some point. Frontotemporal decline, a form of dementia, also affects some individuals with ALS.
    In summary, ALS significantly impacts daily life by affecting mobility, breathing, communication, and mental health. Managing these symptoms requires various strategies and interventions to maintain overall well-being and independence for as long as possible.
    To find out more about the disease biology of ALS, we have specifically studied a genetic mutation that is responsible for 35% of all ALS cases complicated with frontotemporal dementia, and have found a new direction for therapeutic development. Through our experiments on various research models with the University of Oxford, we discovered that a cellular factor becomes dysfunctional in the spinal motor neurons of ALS patients. This dysfunction affects the ability of these neurons to form connections (synapses) with each other, which is crucial for proper communication between nerve cells in the brain. This disruption of synapse formation contributes to the neuronal defects and muscle weakness observed in ALS.
    In addition to studying the basic pathobiology of ALS, we are also developing a group of biological drugs called "the BIND peptides" that aim to slow down the progression of the disease. The affinity of BIND peptides to their drug target has now been enhanced by 1,000 times and we are hoping to start clinical trials on this drug next.
    I would like to share a song called "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. In an interview, Platten mentioned that she wrote this song with determination and a refusal to give up on herself. This song has inspired millions of people, including people suffering from ALS and some of them were featured in a recent ALS documentary film called “No Ordinary Campaign”. It is remarkable how something so personal and resonant can have a universal meaning. We all have the potential to be inspirational, but sometimes it just takes courage to express it. Whether it is through a song, research, or a random act of kindness, when combined, our efforts can fill the world with love and care.


    18/02/2024 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    18/02/2024 - Professor Edwin Chan, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) researcher from CUHK