China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Take your leftovers please

SHANGHAI, Feb. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- "You've ordered too many dishes for five people, sir. Why not forget about the last one?" said a waitress at a Shanghai restaurant. The embarrassed diner nodded his agreement.

another table, a waitress brought the customers two lunch boxes for them to take away the leftovers. The drive to cut down unnecessary waste in Shanghai's restaurants is under way.

day, we collect two huge vats of leftovers from the tables - 30 kilos at least," said Liu Dafeng, manager of Shanghai Families, a chain restaurant. "About 30 percent of the food is never touched."

restaurant has joined hands with a Republic of Korea company to provide diners with pollution-free lunch boxes free of charge so that they can take their leftovers away.

Liu said they still have difficulties in persuading some diners to order "just enough", because Chinese people traditionally feel it is a loss of face for the host if nothing is left at the end of the meal.

recent survey shows 81 percent of Chinese diners cannot finish all their food, but 28 percent never take their leftovers home. Fifty-three percent said they consider taking the food away only when there's too much food left.

survey also found that men aged between 30 and 40 are the most extravagant at dinner tables: they order excessively and don't take away the leftovers.

many people tend to spend lavishly when treating clients, a dinner out with the family is often more economical.

80 to 90 percent of the diners who ate at Liu's restaurant with their families to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on Jan. 29, readily took their leftovers home.

food and beverage sector reported 748.6 billion yuan (93.6 billion U.S. dollars) of retail sales in 2005, about 7 percent of the country's GDP. This year, the figure is expected to top 1 trillion yuan (125 billion U.S. dollars).

no official statistics are available, insiders say the Chinese are probably wasting 60 billion yuan (7.5 billion U.S. dollars) a year at hotels and restaurants.

Shanghai alone, the food and beverage sector is producing at least 1,100 tons of wasted food every day, a fact that hinders China's move to build an environmentally-friendly society.

decided the restaurateurs should have the final say -- they can tell the diners to order just enough and take away whatever they cannot finish," said Shen Yonglin, an official with Shanghai Municipal Environment Protection Bureau.

in 2002, the bureau has launched a "green consumption” campaign in the food and beverage sector, encouraging restaurants to phase out disposable chopsticks and foam lunch boxes that harm the environment.

the end of 2005, the city had nurtured 43 "green restaurants" that willingly persuade their customers not to order excessive amounts and use only pollution-free lunch boxes, though these are several times the cost of non-degradable foam boxes, said Duan Fugen, secretary-general of Shanghai Food and Beverage Association.

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