Letters to the Editor, August 05, 2015
Sponsors must do better recycling job
It is depressing to read the letter by Paul Kumar, of the Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group, about the poor recycling yet again at the Dragon Boat Carnival, which is supported by the Mega Events Fund ("Little effort to recycle waste at carnival", July 23).
The Sunday Morning Post wrote about the lack of recycling at this event in 2012 when the world championships were held here.
We followed up with letters to the Mega Events Fund about having a sustainability policy for all its events, particularly concerning waste generation. Sadly, it either did not understand, or did not care, neither of which are good answers for our city, particularly when the goal of that body is to do good for Hong Kong.
It is not rocket science to do a good job with recycling, but the onus should also not be put on the elderly and foreign cleaners, with substandard infrastructure.
The onus should be on the organisers, the Mega Events Fund if it is supporting the event, and the sponsors who are providing products for the participants and audience.
Sponsors should be responsible for recycling or waste reduction of the materials they bring in, sell and distribute, and they should be proud of doing so. The Mega Events Fund and government also must provide the true and proper infrastructure to facilitate the best recovery and minimised disposal of this material at all of their events.
Until this mindset of responsibility changes, we will continue to be on the unprogressive end of the recycling and event organising spectrum, where we currently sit as a city today.
Doug Woodring, Ocean Recovery Alliance/ Plastic Disclosure Project
Bag levy can be confusing for shoppers
The full implementation of the plastic shopping bag charge on April 1 has proved controversial.
I think citizens have found it confusing. If, for example, they buy fresh meat or fish, they get a free plastic bag.
However, if they purchase other food that is not covered by exemptions then they have to pay 50 cents for a bag. If they ask for the dry and wet food to go into the same bag then presumably they would still have to pay 50 cents. At wet markets, this is confusing for people.
I think it has also proved time-consuming for retailers who have to ensure staff are following the rules outlined in the scheme. This is a waste of human resources.
I feel more effective policies could be implemented by the government to protect the environment.
Scarlett Au, Kwun Tong
Revenue from tax should go to government
I understand why the government extended the plastic bag levy in April to cover all retailers.
Many plastic bags are not biodegradable and increase the pressure on landfills in Hong Kong, which are nearing capacity.
While I can see the advantages to the environment, the levy needs to be modified to make it more efficient and effective.
First of all, some decisions by shops to replace plastic bags should not be allowed. Some retailers, worried they would lose customers if they were faced with a charge, have replaced their plastic bags with free paper bags.
For instance, clothing stores such as H&M give out paper bags, for which there is no charge. However, paper bags are far more environmentally-unfriendly than plastic bags despite being biodegradable. Making a paper bag creates more water pollution and requires more energy.
Also, they are unlikely to be reused. They tear easily and disintegrate when wet. Therefore, paper bags do the environment no good. Only the banning of the distribution of paper bags can effectively protect our environment.
Also, the government should charge plastic bag users more.
The use of plastic bags will not be significantly reduced due to increasing inflation over the last few years.
Well-off citizens do not mind paying 50 cents for a bag. If the government decided to increase the charge, demand would drop. Then, to save money, more shoppers would bring their own bags. They would be more environmentally conscious.
Most importantly, the government should be getting the levy revenue from retailers.
The law states clearly that the levy should be no less than 50 cents. That is why, shops are allowed to adjust it as they see fit. Ocean Park charges its customers HK$5 for the biggest bag it distributes.
I agree that the higher the charge, the less the incentive to use plastic bags. Yet, under the old scheme, all the revenue belonged to the shop owners instead of going to the government. If the government gets the revenue, the money can be at least put to good use.
The levy has been in place since April 1. The government should now take a close look at it, see where improvements can be made and remove any loopholes.
Tang Sha-lee, Yau Yat Chuen
Curbs needed on HK-based parallel traders
Visa rules changed in April to restrict Shenzhen permanent residents to one visit a week to Hong Kong.
The aim of this was to counter the negative effects of the multi-entry permit scheme, which led to an influx of mainland visitors, especially parallel traders.
However, I think this change can only partly solve the problem, because it has no effect on those traders who are Hong Kong citizens.
You still see traders blocking roads and carrying a lot of products.
Also, the rule has meant there are fewer mainland tourists, and this does impact on our economy, as the tourism sector is one of the key pillars of Hong Kong.
If the industry is badly hit and the problems it is experiencing get worse, then we could see a rise in unemployment.
Other measures need to be adopted to run in conjunction with the once-a-week visit rule and aimed at reducing the number of parallel traders who are from Hong Kong.
A weight restriction can be imposed on suitcases being taken across the border.
Also, the government and tourism-related industries should work together to try and get back the genuine tourists.
More discounts could be offered to encourage them to stay overnight and spend more money in Hong Kong.
Also, the administration should expand its promotion campaigns in various countries to attract visitors from other parts of the world.
Chan Pui-yiu, Kowloon Tong
Teens leading unhealthy lifestyles
Many teenagers spend too long every day in front of their computers or on their smartphones and, because of that, put their health at risk.
I have classmates who play computer games at night and are so tired the next day that they sometimes fall asleep during lessons.
Young people should be encouraged to take sufficient rest and to have regular exercise.
In addition to any PE classes at school, they should try and allocate 30 minutes to one hour every day for exercise.
It is up to parents to ensure their children do not spend too long at computers and get some exercise.
Jason Luk Kwun-shan, Tseung Kwan O