Shoppers stock up to beat plastic bag levy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 2009, 12:00am

As shoppers started stockpiling free plastic bags ahead of Tuesday's introduction of a 50-cent-per-bag levy, at least one grocery store found a way to dissuade them - introducing an early levy of its own.

Kau Kee Grocery in Po On Road Market, Cheung Sha Wan, hangs bags in different parts of the shop for customers to pack their goods into, making it easy for them to carry away a few extras.

'It is more convenient to hang the bags on the walls, so everything can be packed immediately,' owner Wong Chun-kau said. 'But customers often take piles of plastic bags away when I have turned around looking for change. To stop them taking advantage of me, I will charge them 50 cents for every extra bag they take.' Mr Wong put up a handwritten poster yesterday morning saying, '50 cents will be charged for every extra plastic bag', and said it had successfully scared off one elderly woman.

To make the point further, he posted a sign saying '100 plastic bags for HK$18' next to the cashier point.

Housewives, meanwhile, said they were starting to hoard plastic bags for future use.

'We used to collect plastic bags only to use as rubbish bags, but now we need to keep some for shopping,' a Kau Kee customer giving her name only as Ms Choi said.

A Mrs Wat, outside the Po On Road Market complex, said: 'I still cannot get used to it ... I always forget I need plenty of plastic bags inside my bag when I go shopping.'

At a Tsuen Wan branch of Wellcome, most customers were still carrying their goods away in plastic bags provided by the supermarket. Most of those interviewed said they would bring their own bags from Tuesday, while some said they would turn to the smaller supermarkets, which were exempt from the levy.

Others said they would limit daily purchases to goods that would fit in their shopping bags. A Mrs Fong said: 'If my bag is full, I can buy other things the next day. She did not know that the tax would take effect next week.

A Mrs Lau, in her 70s, said she would ask for extra bags even if she did not need them, to stock up before the levy. 'For sure I'll pile up a stock before they charge for them as I use them to hold trash,' she said.

A Mrs Lee said she would buy necessities in wet markets from next Tuesday, to get bags for trash.

Others, like a Mr Wong, were happy to buy rubbish bags. 'It's not necessary [to stockpile plastic bags], he said. 'I can buy them everywhere.'