I've “bin” putting my cutlery in the right place. Have you?

Written by Minhee Ho

Cutlery misplacement in RCHK has developed into a huge school-wide problem. With over 500 utensils lost in less than three months, this seemingly small issue has created many negative implications, and the time for action has come.

According to the South China Morning Post, two in three Hong-Kongers use plastic forks and spoons each day, greatly impacting the city’s environment - in fact it is estimated that about 60% of all land pollution is caused by plastic waste.

In 2017, RCHK introduced its brand new initiative to promote sustainable cutlery and reduce the use of disposable materials. RCHK encouraged students to use metal cutlery provided by Chartwells in an effort to decrease plastic use and encourage sustainability throughout the student body.

However, due to many students participating in meetings and clubs, this caused some practicality issues, as students would have to return to the ground floor in order to deposit their utensils for the Blue Team to clean. Therefore, the RCHK service ambassadors attempted to solve this issue by placing a series of collection bins throughout the secondary building, making it much more convenient to return plates and utensils, as students eating on the upper floors wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to the cafeteria. Collection bins were placed on the second and third levels beside the main staircase.

However, despite these efforts, cutlery continued to be lost, as students, rather than using the collection bins provided, continued to leave their utensils on the floor and on trash cans instead of in the adjacent bins. The problem has worsened, reaching its climax in December 2018, where it was estimated that approximately three plates, seven forks, five spoons, and two knives were lost on a daily basis. According to statistics provided by the Chartwells Team, 246 utensils disappeared within the short span of one month.

Dor Dor, a Year 9 student and a current member of the Service Ambassador Team, expresses her frustration, “I think this shows that even with the cutlery bin system, people are still lazy and refuse to do the correct thing.”

All cutlery is provided by Chartwells, and when so much is lost, they have to purchase more . Although it may appear that cutlery is not expensive, when more than 200 pieces have to be restocked monthly, this has a large impact. Not only does cutlery misplacement create financial implications,  it also greatly affects the Blue Team. When students leave their cutlery on the ground, the food stains the floor, meaning that the workers have to scrub this off as well as return the cutlery to its rightful place. A Blue Team worker was quoted describing the situation as “tiresome” and “difficult”, as they already have so much to do, and burdening them with this extra task is very unnecessary.    

Cutlery misplacement may not appear to be a large issue: the general attitude is that leaving just one fork or just one spoon shouldn’t be such a big problem. However, when these small actions add up, they create a huge issue and encourage others to also participate in this negative behaviour. It shouldn’t have to be the Blue Team or the Chartwells Company picking up after students’ laziness.  

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