Massive reduction of plastic shopping bags ending up in our landfills

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 September, 2011, 12:00am

I refer to the letter by J. Tse ('Decision to give plastic bags wrong', August 30).

The 'Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags' was implemented in July 2009, as the first mandatory producer responsibility scheme in Hong Kong. It has successfully created a direct economic disincentive that has helped our people build up a bring-your-own-bag habit. Distribution of plastic shopping bags from regulated sources, and hence disposal of such bags at landfills, has declined by about 90 per cent since the implementation.

While the levy scheme primarily targets plastic shopping bags, it has spread a strong green message across our community leading to an enhanced awareness of the '3Rs' (reduce, reuse, recycle) and a growing desire for green living among our people. As far as effective waste management is concerned, we will continue to attach importance to waste reduction under our multi-pronged waste management strategy. Among other things, there will be enhanced publicity and public education reaching out to different sectors of our community, including members of the public and key stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Your correspondent raised concerns about garbage bags. In general, these bags serve a practical need of ensuring environmental hygiene. In some public housing estates, we understand these bags might be provided to tenants on a need basis but, even if provided, they are in limited number (up to 25 pieces per month).

We welcome views on what more could be done to protect the environment of Hong Kong. We also strongly believe that with the concerted efforts of our community, we are able to manage our broader waste problem (including plastic shopping bags, rubbish bags and beyond) in an effective and sustainable way, thereby making Hong Kong a better and greener place.

Samson Lai, assistant director (waste management policy), Environmental Protection Department

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