Plastic bags are necessary and pose no environmental risk

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 12:00am

I wish to address the three points raised by letter writer Wolfgang Ehmann ('Ignoring reality of plastic bags', February 26).

First, as plastic bags are non-toxic and do not give out greenhouse gases when buried, whether these bags can or cannot 'disintegrate' quickly in our landfills is of no material consequence.

Therefore, plastic bags pose no health or environmental risk, and their ability to disappear or remain in the ground is not a valid argument for the levy.

Second, Mr Ehmann guessed that the average shopper comes home with about three times more plastic carrier bags than are needed.

That is his personal projection but a view without any basis.

The fact is, retailers affected by the proposed bag levy were only able to give out, on average, 0.3 bags per person per day.

That is by no means excessive when compared with other jurisdictions that have similar habits in their society.

Our Environmental Protection Department insists that we each dispose of 3 bags per person per day, 10 times more than the number given out, as an excuse to impose its regressive levy (which will cost customers 50 cents per bag).

Third, Mr Ehmann said the use of plastic bags was totally, utterly and entirely unnecessary.

But how did he dispose of his waste hygienically? Did he use plastic bin liners or nothing at all?

Others have been using supermarket shopping bags as bin liner substitutes, as that is a responsible way to protect our environment. This act is not an abuse, as alleged by the Environmental Protection Department.

Therefore, as a person who shows care for the environment, would Mr Ehmann still think it is nice to implement the levy so that everyone will bring their own bags and keep using heavy plastic bin liners for throwing away their rubbish?

I suggest Mr Ehmann tries throwing out some rubbish in order to better understand the bag levy debate and why the levy should not be implemented.

Charles Chow Chi-man, Sheung Shui