'Expand plastic bag levy'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 July, 2010, 12:00am

A government study shows that the number of plastic bags distributed by registered retailers had dropped by 90 per cent after the levy was put in place.

However, the amount collected in the first nine months was less than HK$20 million, way lower than the estimate of HK$200 million for the first year.

Environmental group Greeners Action has also found that more people are taking plastic bags that are placed next to fruit and vegetable counters.

During checks at some supermarkets, it found 467 incidents of use of such bags.

'Supermarkets should keep these bags away from shoppers . . . and give them out only when necessary,' says Greeners Action project officer Kwok Ying-ying .

The group has also called on the government to expand the scheme from about 3,000 supermarkets, convenience stores, and health and beauty shops to smaller shops such as news-stands and dry-goods stores.

Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said on a radio programme that it may not be possible to apply the same system to small shops.

At present, the shops give all the money from the levies to the government and report all details of the distribution and sale of plastic bags with the Environment Protection Department.

Yau said some countries simply required retailers to charge for the plastic bags and the government would review the scheme and study ways to move forward.

Greeners Action found that more than 57 per cent of business organisations, other green groups and political parties would want the levy money to go to the Treasury or the Environment and Conservation Fund rather than to shops if the scheme was expanded.