Some feel embarrassed to take bags to shops

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 June, 2009, 12:00am

More than a tenth of survey respondents - including executives and professionals - say they will not take their own bags for shopping after the plastic bag levy kicks in next Tuesday because it is inconvenient, not easy to remember and embarrassing, a green group has found.

They are a minority, however, with 85 per cent saying they will, the Friends of the Earth survey shows.

The group released the findings yesterday after commissioning the University of Hong Kong to poll 1,000 respondents in April in the first of a three-part survey to find out the public's behavioural change in using bags before, at the beginning and six months after the levy starts on July 7.

More than 2,000 supermarket branches, convenience stores and personal grooming shops will begin charging 50 cents per plastic bag in about a week, but sceptics have queried whether it can cut use.

Rubbish bag sales had risen 30 per cent as vendors expected increased demand in the absence of free plastic bags, which many used to collect garbage, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Plastic Bag Manufacturers' Association said on an RTHK show.

Friends of the Earth said it was confident that the rise in use of garbage bags would not nullify the effect of the levy - which is expected to cut the use of plastic bags by half. 'In Hong Kong, a person uses three plastic bags on average each day,' senior environmental affairs officer Michelle Au Wing-tze said. 'That makes 12 bags for a family of four, but how many dustbins does a family normally have?'

Ms Au said the government should step up publicity about the scheme's details, such as the list of the outlets affected, because many people did not know which were included.

The survey found more than 27 per cent rarely or never take bags for shopping, and while 84.1 per cent would take only one or two plastic bags from the store, 4.1 per cent would get seven to more than 11 bags.

The 50-cent levy was reasonable, according to 85 per cent, and 78.3 per cent felt the charge would deter plastic bag use.

About 25 cyclists from Greeners Action rode around Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok for one and a half hours yesterday to publicise the new policy.