We must realise that plastic bag pollution is a global problem

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am

Alex Chu's assessment that Hong Kong does not have a severe plastic bag problem is myopic and fails to see the inter-connectedness of all things on our planet ('Argument in favour of levy is not convincing', February 25).

Hong Kong shares the planet's natural resources. The actions of others affect us and vice versa. Plastic bag pollution is a global problem and Hong Kong needs to act responsibly.

If Mr Chu is not convinced that plastic bags are a problem in Hong Kong he should attend the annual Stanley dragon boat race. Each year, Stanley main beach is swamped with garbage swept in by the seasonal tide. Plastic bags make up a big portion of the garbage.

Perhaps there is a need for a paradigm shift in understanding the bigger issue at hand. Regardless of the reported figures of plastic bags being used, most of the uses are unnecessary and replaceable.

We acknowledge that recycled plastic bags positively contribute as bin liners, but opposing the tax based on this lacks perspective.

It is no use talking about safeguarding environmental hygiene when our environment is polluted and poisoned. One need not use green groups' scaremongering tactics to describe the ill effects of plastic bags on our environment. Our city's children are learning the far-reaching effects of plastics on our environment - in some cases more so than those who were 'educated' in the old world of waste-and-prosper.

Many cities around the world have either banned the use of plastic bags or have policies discouraging their use. In Ireland, between the government tax on bags, an effective advertising campaign and strong public support, plastic bag usage reportedly dropped 94 per cent in a matter of weeks. Where efforts to tax plastic bags have failed, the reasons have been due to heated opposition from manufacturers and merchants and visionless government leaders. Caring for our environment requires effort, costs and thought.

We need to think on a global scale with environmental protection as a basis for our policies. The plastic bag levy is a small but important step.

Lim Kwok-zu, Wan ChaI