Newsstand vendors sign petition seeking an end to giveaway bags

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 August, 2010, 12:00am

Newspaper sellers want a law introduced banning plastic bags on newsstands.

More than 100 newspaper retailers out of about 1,500 in the city have urged the government to combat the practice of selling newspapers and magazines in plastic bags.

'We do not want to give away plastic bags as they are against the environment and cost more, but we feel powerless to change the practice,' the chairman of the Newspaper Vendors Association, Liu Sair-ching, said.

'There are no ways out unless the government pushes for legislation.'

The owner of a Tsuen Wan newspaper store said: 'Some customers tell us off for not providing a bag.'

Liu said: 'It used to be an advertising channel and we were supplied with bags with company logos. But as time went by it turned into a trend that vendors were forced to follow, fearing sales would drop otherwise.'

Another store owner chose to curb the practice by discouraging her customers from taking the bags.

'Instead of pre-packaging the newspapers, I put a stack of bags at the far end of my stand,' said Lau Siu-chun, the owner of two stores. 'When a customer asks for a bag I will ask them to get it themselves. Many of them see the trouble and give up.'

As a result, bag consumption at her store had fallen more than half.

Activist group Greeners Action, which helped collect the vendors' signatures, said the city wasted more than 700,000 plastic bags on newspapers every day.

He added the government should cut their use by including them in the next phase of the plastic bag levy scheme, which took effect on July 7 last year and under which a charge of 50 HK cents is levied by supermarkets and stores on each plastic bag used.

The Environment Bureau said it would present different options for in-depth discussion by the public and the trade for the next phase of the tax scheme.

In the bag

Greeners Action says more than 700,000 bags are wasted every day

The number of newspaper retailers who signed a petition calling for the use of plastic bags to end: 100