Bags pile up despite fee

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am


The number of plastic bags in landfills is down only slightly since the 50-cent levy was introduced in 2009. But there has been a sharp rise in reusable bags being dumped.

Hongkongers threw away 4.4 billion disposable plastic bags last year - just 5.7 per cent fewer than the year before the levy came in, the Environmental Protection Department said. Far more reusable bags were thrown out - 17.7 million last year, a 77 per cent jump from 10 million in 2009.

This has raised fears the levy could have made the problem worse, since the reusable bags are made from tougher plastic than disposable ones, meaning they take longer to break down.

Dr Man Chi-sum, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Environment's waste subcommittee, said: 'It is time the government faced this problem of reusable bags, which are far more harmful to the environment.'

Meanwhile, shops may be able to keep the disposable bag levy instead of handing it to the government under a revised scheme. That could mean more shops included in the scheme. Just 4 per cent of shops, or about 3,000, must collect the fee - most are supermarkets, personal care and convenience stores.