Anti-plastic bag levy lobby must learn to live in the 21st century

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2008, 12:00am

The anti-plastic-bag-levy gang is like a hollow drum: empty, but it assumes that, if it bangs on, it can rally support to its cause. Alex Tam ('Government's plastic bag levy is a regressive tax in disguise', July 15) and Alex Hung ('Environmentalists have forced through bill on plastic bags', July 25).

Both writers imply that all plastic bags are reused and ultimately serve as bin bags. While this is the case with regard to some of the estimated three plastic bags per head disposed of daily in our landfills, it is certainly not the case for the majority of them.

They also keep harping on about 'harmful' bin-liners. Actually, many of these bin-liners are of the same thickness and substance as the supermarket bags. Some are of heavier quality, and pressure should be put on manufacturers to ensure that their product is made to the latest standards and that the production process avoids excessive use of raw materials and energy. The message from green groups is invariably that of 'reduce, reuse and recycle'. Hard-core 'greenies' would never dream of buying bin-liners; they can find abundant discarded alternatives to use for waste disposal. The act of charging customers, first of all in supermarkets but later on in all stores, for the bags they request will certainly reduce consumption and will focus attention on other issues such as over-packaging and over-consumption.

It is understandable that this is not music to the ears of manufacturers and retailers, but circumstances dictate that 21st century citizens must march to the beat of a sustainable drum and drag our governments along behind us. To infer that green groups have misguided the Hong Kong government, when it has done nothing for years but procrastinate and pander to corporate pressure, is risible.

Record companies are now paying the price for burying their heads in the sand with regard to changes in the media field; plastic bag manufacturers, instead of whingeing with their fingers in the dyke, should read the writing on the wall and reinvent their production lines to keep abreast of world trends.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan