Officials have not made the case for levy on plastic bags

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 February, 2009, 12:00am

Your editorial ('Reducing plastic bag use is just the first step', February 19) is misguided.

It says a levy on plastic shopping bags is not a panacea for our environmental woes but a significant step in the right direction.

Frankly, how have these non-toxic and biodegradable carrier bags, contributing so insignificantly to the waste volume in our landfills, become our environmental woes in the first place?

Who has been creating this fictional scenario of plastic bags clogging our drains, polluting our rivers, strangling our wildlife, dirtying our beaches and getting into our food chain, fooling people into believing that plastic shopping bags are evil and paying 50 cents into the government's coffers if you want to use one?

I have always wondered why some people are reluctant to face the fact that using used plastic shopping bags as bin liner substitutes is environmentally friendly.

But how can people throw away their domestic waste hygienically without the use of plastic bags?

People who carry their own bags would still need to buy plastic bin liners for waste disposal but in so doing the bin liners used will simply replace the plastic supermarket shopping bags saved. The former serves one single purpose while the latter serves at least two. So, why treat plastic bin liners (levy free) and supermarket shopping bags (to be levied) differently when both are used for the same purpose?

Still, many think it is nice to implement the levy so that everyone will bring their own bags and keep using plastic bin liners. Is that what people who show 'care for the environment' should do?

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) accuses people of abusing supermarket carrier bags but fails to give a proper definition of what constitutes an abuse. Using inflated figures that it cannot justify, the EPD alleges that the city has been excessively using supermarket carrier bags, fooling people into believing a levy is needed.

Clearly, it isn't the 50 cent levy that critics are bothering about. It is the principle behind its legislation.

Alex Hung, Sai Kung