The indiscriminate use of plastic shopping bags (PSBs) is a major and visible environmental problem in Hong Kong. Our landfill survey in 2005 indicates that some eight billion plastic shopping bags are disposed of at landfills every year. This translates into more than three plastic shopping bags per person per day, which apparently go beyond our needs.
Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags
PSB Levy Scheme – First Phase (7 July 2009 – 31 March 2015)
The first phase of the PSB Levy Scheme was implemented on 7 July 2009 targeting some 3,000 retail outlets mostly being supermarkets, convenience stores and medicare and cosmetics stores. Landfill disposal of PSBs distributed by the regulated retail categories recorded significant decrease in mid-2010 after one year of operation of the PSB Levy Scheme.
However, the effectiveness of the first phase of PSB Levy Scheme was limited by its narrow scope of coverage, and the amount of PSBs disposed of at landfills originated from other retail sectors have been on the increase. As such, in May 2011, the Government launched a 3-month consultation in extending the PSB Levy Scheme. On the whole, the community’s feedback was supportive to extend the PSB Levy Scheme to cover all retail outlets so as to further address the problem of excessive PSBs use in Hong Kong. The Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2013 was tabled at the Legislative Council (LegCo) in May 2013 and after careful scrutiny, the LegCo passed the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, and the full implementation of the PSB Levy Scheme has taken effect since 1 April 2015.
The full implementation of the PSB Levy Scheme on 1 April 2015 signifies the conclusion of the first phase of the scheme. For information and statistics relating to the first phase of the PSB Levy Scheme, please click here.
Full Implementation of the PSB Levy Scheme
Upon full implementation the PSB Levy Scheme will cover more than 100,000 points of retail sales. Comparing to the first phase, full implementation of the PSB Levy Scheme carries the following major characteristics:
Ban on free PSB distribution at all points of retail sales
Except with exemptions, retailers should charge at least 50 cents for each PSB provided to consumers
Exemptions on PSB use for food hygiene reasons
All plastic bags including flat-top bags will be subject to regulation
Retention of the PSB charges by sellers
For implementation details, please click here.