Stores join call to cut plastic bag use
By Lilian Goh
Some of Hong Kong's top retail chains have joined a campaign to arouse people's awareness about the need to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Environmental organisation Green Student Council is organising a No Plastic Bag Day on April 15.
The city's green activists are concerned by the massive overuse of plastic bags in Hong Kong.
According to them, Hongkongers consume 24 million plastic bags a day, or nine billion a year, putting tremendous pressure on Hong Kong's landfills.
The council has invited five leading retail chains - Wellcome, ParknShop, China Resources Vanguard (Hong Kong), Mannings and Watsons - to join its No Plastic Bag Day.
The stores won't be offering free plastic bags to customers on that day. If the shoppers need plastic bags, they will have to pay 50 cents for each one. The proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated to the non-governmental organisation, Oxfam Hong Kong.
Supermarkets have long been criticised by environmentalists for handing out free plastic bags to shoppers.
In order to improve their image, Wellcome and ParknShop launched promotions last year, encouraging customers to bring their own bags. But the public response has been disappointing.
The campaigns have, on average, meant that each store is giving out a meagre 200 to 300 less plastic bags per day.
This amounts to a monthly reduction of about one to two million bags.
The council said the results show that the campaigns have not been effective and Hong Kong needs to adopt a tougher approach to tackle the problem.
A plastic bag tax, which was raised by the Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen in his last budget, could be a solution, the green group added.
The council said such a tax had been a success in Ireland and Taiwan, where the use of plastic bags had been reduced by 90 and 80 per cent, respectively.
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