The Environmental Protection Department has proposal on an environmental levy on plastic shopping bags, with a view to seeking comments and support from the stakeholders and the public.

“The territory is facing an imminent and serious waste problem. Among these wastes, more than 23 million plastic shopping bags are disposed of at our landfills every single day. This translates into more than three plastic shopping bags per person per day, which is much higher than our overseas counterparts,” an EPD spokesman said. “We therefore need an environmental levy, which is in line with the ‘‘polluter pays‘‘ principle, to provide a direct economic disincentive to reduce the indiscriminate use of plastic shopping bags”, he said.

Under the scheme, EPD proposes a phased approach with the banning of free distribution of plastic shopping bags at chain or large supermarkets, convenience stores and personal healthy and beauty stores and the introduction of an environmental levy of 50 cents on each plastic shopping bag at these retail outlets in the first phase.

The spokesman noted that while the Voluntary Agreement on Plastic Bag Reduction and the “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign had significantly increased public awareness, the actual impact on plastic shopping bag reduction was rather limited, compared to the sheer scale of the problem.

A public opinion survey conducted in 2006 showed that close to 90% of the respondents believed there was scope to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags in their daily life, while more than 85% of respondents said that they would reduce the use of plastic shopping bags if an environmental levy of 50 cents was imposed.

The spokesman said a levy of 50 cents would strike a right balance between public acceptance and effective disincentive and would encourage the customers to think twice before asking for a plastic shopping bag, or to bring their own bags at all time, which was a more sensible choice with the levy in place.

“In doing so, they not only avoid the levy but also help save the environment. It is estimated that the proposed 50 cents levy will reduce about 1 billion plastic shopping bags, or about 50% of plastic shopping bags at the retailers covered by the scheme,” he added.

EPD will seek support from the Legislative Council‘‘s Panel on Environmental Affairs and the Advisory Council on the Environment on the proposal, and solicit views from the stakeholders and the public

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #23-2007-June 08, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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