Councillor blows whistle on paper mountain sent out by banks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 August, 2010, 12:00am

How many pamphlets do banks give out a year? One district councillor who took the trouble to collect them for more than a year, says it is equivalent to 250,000 trees.

Bank of China (Hong Kong), HSBC and Citibank used the most paper, topping the list of 16 banks of which Tai Po district councillor Eric Tam Wing Fun is a client.

Tam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had had enough after collecting about 2,000 pamphlets weighing about 13 kilograms over 18 months and decided it was time to 'blow the whistle' at a press conference yesterday.

In the list he compiled, Bank of China (Hong Kong) sent him 311 pamphlets in 74 envelopes from the start of last year until two months ago. It was followed by Citibank and HSBC with 194 and 167 pamphlets, respectively.

Working on the assumption that each Hongkonger has 3.5 credit cards, he calculated that the banks would collectively use more than 14,500 tonnes of paper, equivalent to about 250,000 trees.

'Banks have thrived over the years, making headway in different sectors such as credit cards, loans and insurance. And to keep growing their business, they have to market their products to clients in many different ways,' he said.

'Much of what they say on these pamphlets is very similar. That is promotion for the sake of promotion, but not for the support of new products.'

He suggested that bank customers should ask for electronic statements or the termination of such advertisements.

A Bank of China spokesman said it had always encouraged clients to use electronic banking services, and they could receive their bank statements via mobile phone text messaging if they so requested.