50 cents bag tax approved

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2007, 12:00am

The Executive Council has approved a levy on plastic bags, according to a source close to the cabinet.

The source said the 50-cent levy was approved in principle during an Exco meeting yesterday, although some technical issues, such as legal wording, required more study. Notice will be made before Christmas, followed by the beginning of the legislative process. A bill is expected to be tabled before the Legislative Council by the end of next year.

The government could reveal details of the plan as early as tomorrow.

The outline of the law was unveiled in May, when the government initiated a two-month consultation.

The levy will initially involve 2,000 outlets and aims to cut at least 1 billion bags a year. It should mean about HK$200 million in revenue if bag use is cut in half.

Consumers will first have to pay at retail outlets of a certain floor size and operation scale that sell food, medicine and hygiene products. It is unclear when the plan will extend to other retailers, but it will be reviewed after a year.

To prevent abuse, bags that purport to be environmentally friendly but are made of plastic will not be allowed to be sold for less than HK$5 or they will also attract the tax.

More than 8 billion bags a year are dumped in Hong Kong's landfills - about three bags per person per day.