Flip the Change: Reduce Single-use Cups and BYO!

Hong Kong took a major step to reduce waste on Earth Day, 22 April 2024—prohibiting the sale and distribution of single-use plastics and styrofoam food containers and for dine-in purposes. To encourage responsible consumption habits and celebrate Earth Day, the HKUST Sustainability/Net-Zero Office ran the ‘Flip the Change’ campaign in late March and invited Muuse to pilot a reusable cup lending program on campus from 22 April for a week. The campaigns together engaged around 500 community members take part in pledging to “BYO”—bring their own—and ‘flip the change.’


Flip the Change

Each day we are making different choices. “Flip the Change”, just a change of mind, we can reduce the disposable waste by making a smarter choice.

To encourage more responsible consumption and adopt a BYO-habit, the campaign was co-organised by the Sustainability/Net-Zero Office and the Jockey Club Sustainable Campus Consumer Programme (JCSCCP) to collect hundreds of used single-use cups disposed of over a week’s time, and display them in a recycled wood container as an installation to showcase the amount of waste generated through our consumption behavior.

With much-appreciated help from the cleaners to rinse and dry the used cups, the piles of cups were displayed at SSC Hub and LSK Business School lobby—two high-traffic campus locations—where they helped spark conversations about the environmental and monetary costs of single-use cups.

Not only producing and using single-use cups unsustainable for our planet—as it requires vast amounts of natural resources like water to manufacture, and releases carbon emissions during the process —the campus community may also save up to HK$120 a month if they switch to a BYO lifestyle (assuming that people buy one drink per day from Starbucks, and switch to BYOC daily—which gives a discount of HK$4!). The campaign especially highlighted which HKUST’s caterers were offering a small discount on orders if customers were to BYO containers/cups.

As part of the campaign, a drinks giveaway event was held during lunch hour, for students and staff to receive a free milk tea or coffee, so long as they brought their own reusable cup, and made a pledge to ‘Flip the Change’ moving forwards through our Instagram “Add-yours “story post or SSC hub message wall. Similar campaigns were co-hosted by JCSCCP at Hong Kong Baptist University and Lingnan University to drive positive behavioural change.

As a follow-up, ‘Flip the Change Information Cards’ are now placed near the check-out counters of campus cafes that offer discounts for BYO, highlighting the environmental impacts people can bring about by choosing to BYO. Near major recycling bins on-campus, there are additional instructions on how single-use paper cups can be recycled once they are rinsed clean and placed in beverage carton recycling bin outside Library entrance or at Seafront Cafeteria. Muuse also hosted a counter for a week at SSC Hub from Earth Day to provide free reusable stainless steel cups for our community members to experience the benefits of BYO.


Try lending a cup if you can’t BYO!

On HKUST campus, currently only Starbucks offers a ‘Borrow A Cup Program,’ where customers may ‘Borrow A Cup’ at the cashier to get their drink in a reusable cup and return it at the box there. By doing so, not only does it reduce the need to use a brand new single-use cup, but customers also receive a HK$1 discount from their drink order.

Other HKUST campus caterers may also offer discounts for BYO (bringing your own container/cup) – more information on the latest details can be found here.

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