Too Full to Finish? Pay Up.

In the the industrialized world, parents have long deployed tricks and guilt trips to get kids to clean their plates (“Think of the starving children in [insert buzzed-about impoverished country here],” etc.). But food waste is a relatively new problem in Hong Kong; over the past five years, the territory’s growing prosperity has contributed to a more than twofold increase in discarded leftovers, according to a report by the Christian Science Monitor. In fact, food now accounts for about a third of the waste in HK landfills, while it’s only around 12 percent in the United States.

Restaurateurs there are fed up with the waste—which cuts into the profits of all-you-can-eat spots—and some have responded by charging customers for not finishing their food. One all-you-can-eat hot-pot joint charges roughly 65 cents per ounce of leftovers; a similar sushi place charges about $1.28 for each unfinished piece of nori-wrapped deliciousness (even if the diner picks off the fish and just leaves the rice).

Nowhere in the article is there any mention of doggy bags, though. Do Hong Kongers, like many folks outside the U.S., consider the concept of taking extra food home from a restaurant un peu déclassé? If so, I wonder how long it’ll be until Hong Kong launches a massive antiobesity campaign. (Or, you know, an anti-all-you-can-eat campaign.)

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