Delay of plastic bag levy law should lead to major rethink

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am

I applaud the move by the Legislative Council to scrutinise the plastic bag levy in detail ('Plastic-bag levy runs into obstacle', February 4).

Critics opposing this levy have presented their arguments through these columns, demonstrating that supermarket plastic bags are not the cause of our environmental problems.

These bags should not be regressively taxed.

The current habit of most people - reusing supermarket bags in various appropriate ways before finally using them as bin liner substitutes - makes perfect environmental sense.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) should encourage this environmentally friendly behaviour rather than calling it an 'abuse' and slapping on a levy to discourage it.

Although bringing one's own bags can help reduce the number of plastic bags given out, such a benefit will disappear when people have to buy plastic bin liners for the purpose of throwing away their garbage.

Therefore, 'being environmentally friendly' by bringing your own bags is a misguided view. These so-called environmental bags are potential waste that will end up in our landfills.

Also, plastic bin liners are less environmentally friendly than their plastic shopping bag substitutes when both are used as receptacles for throwing out rubbish.

Until a more suitable bin liner material can be found, penalising these versatile and functional plastic supermarket shopping bags, which have been safeguarding our general environmental hygiene, simply does not make common sense.

Lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang is right to oppose the negative vetting process. It has been pointed out here that the bag levy is in fact not an environmental issue.

The EPD has misled the public and our legislature on the bag tax.

It must be time for Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah, the principal official responsible under the chief executive's accountability system, to respond to the issues raised by opponents in the bag debate.

Alex F. T. Chu, Sai Kung