FAQs

For Public

General Matters
Q. 1 What is the objective of the full implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging (the "PSB Charging")?
Riding on the success of the first phase of the Plastic Shopping Bags Levy Scheme, the PSB Charging is implemented with a view to reinforcing the good habit of “Bring Your Own Bag”.
Q. 2 What is the amount of the plastic shopping bag charge ("PSB charge")?
Retailers/sellers must charge at least 50 cents for each plastic shopping bag provided to their customers, except those exempted plastic bags.
Q. 3 Can a retailer pay the PSB charge for a customer?
A retailer cannot pay the PSB charge for his/her customer, otherwise commits an offence.
Q. 4 What would happen if a customer refuses to pay the PSB charge?
A retailer shall not provide plastic bags to a customer if he/she refuses to pay the PSB charge.
PSB Charging Implementation Date
Q. 5 When will the PSB Charging come into effect?
The PSB Charging will commence on 1 April 2015.
Scope of the PSB Charging
Q. 6 What types of outlets are covered under the PSB Charging?
The PSB Charging includes all points of retail sales of goods, irrespective of the scale of the business (e.g. chain stores, SMEs, hawkers) and the nature of the business (e.g. street level shops, upper floor shops, sales via mail order or internet). For those outlets whose primary business is to provide service and at the same time have also taken part in the retail sales of goods (e.g. hairdressing salons selling hair care products, tutorial schools selling books and stationery), the retailers will also need to charge the customer at least 50 cents for each plastic bag provided when conducting retail sales of goods.
Q. 7 Does a customer need to pay the PSB charge for small plastic bags when small items are purchased? [NEW]
Full implementation of the PSB Charging came into effect on 1 April 2015. When shopping involves small items that may not be carried around easily, we encourage the public to bring their own shopping bag or suitable containers to carry the purchased items.
Plastic Shopping Bags Subject to Charge
Q. 8 What is a "plastic shopping bag"?
A bag is a "plastic shopping bag" covered under the PSB Charging if –
  1. it is made wholly or partly of plastic; and
  2. whether or not there is a handle, handle hole, perforated line for tearing out a handle hole, carrying string or strap, or any other carrying device on, or attached to, the bag.
Plastic includes but is not limited to polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and nylon. Shopping bags with plastic content are considered as "plastic shopping bags" under the PSB Charging. For example, paper shopping bags with plastic content such as plastic lamination or plastic handles or string handles having plastic stubs at the end are "plastic shopping bags". Similarly, non-woven bags made of polypropylene are also "plastic shopping bags".
Q. 9 Why "flat-top bag" is subject to charge?
It is common for members of the public to use "flat-top bags" in carrying fresh food or foodstuff without packaging. Yet, "flat-top bags" are also being used to contain non-foodstuff or foodstuff that has no hygiene concerns. To put this abusive behaviour to a halt, "flat-top bags" will also be subject to the PSB charge under the PSB Charging. As we have introduced food exemption provisions where plastic bags used solely for food hygiene reasons will be exempted from the PSB charge, the current practice of using "flat-top bags" to contain fresh food or unpackaged foodstuff on hygiene grounds will not be affected.
Q. 10 Why "non-woven bag" (sometimes known as environmental bag) is subject to charge?
"Non-woven bag" is also made of plastic so it is covered under the PSB Charging.
Q. 11 Does a PSB charge apply to each bag contained in a pre-packaged pack of plastic bags purchased (e.g zip-lock bags, garbage bags )?
A customer only needs to pay an amount not less than 50 cents for each pre-packaged pack of 10 or more plastic bags. However, at least 50 cents should be paid for each bag should the pre-packaged pack has 9 or less bags.
Exemption Arrangements
Q. 12 What are the types of exemption arrangements under the PSB Charging?
Under the PSB Charging, there are three types of exemptions:
  1. Bag used for food hygiene reasons
    A bag that only contains an item of food, drink or medicine (collectively as "foodstuff") for human or animal consumption where the item is —
    1. without packaging; or
    2. in non-airtight packaging; or
    3. in frozen or chilled state (regardless the packaging method).
  2. Bag used for packaging
    A bag that –
    1. contains either unpackaged goods or more than one piece of goods and is sealed before the goods are supplied to the seller concerned; or
    2. forms part of the goods concerned.
  3. Bag provided with the services
    A bag provided to customer which forms part of the services with no retail sales of goods involved.
In the circumstances mentioned above, the plastic bag given out will not be subject to the PSB charge.
Q. 13 Does the exemption of PSB charge apply to all types of foodstuff purchased?
Due to food hygiene reasons, plastic bag used to carry the following types of foodstuff could be exempted from the PSB charge under the PSB Charging –
  1. foodstuff without packaging; or
  2. foodstuff in non-airtight packaging; or
  3. foodstuff in chilled or frozen state (regardless the packaging methods).
Nevertheless, we encourage the public to practise bring your own bag (BYOB) or to reuse plastic bags so as to curb the use of plastic bags in Hong Kong, whenever possible.
Q. 14 Is it a violation of the law to provide more than one plastic bag to contain foodstuff, which is exempted due to food hygiene reason? [NEW]
The Ordinance does not specify the number of plastic bag that could be provided free of PSB charge in situations where exemption due to food hygiene reasons apply. It is not against the law if more than one plastic bag is provided in such case. Nonetheless, plastic bag should not be distributed and used excessively by retailers and customers. Customers are advised to use their own shopping bag as far as possible.
Q. 15 Does a PSB charge apply to all foodstuff in airtight packaging?
A PSB charge applies to foodstuff in airtight packaging which is not in chilled or frozen state.
Q. 16 Does a PSB charge apply if both foodstuff that has hygiene concerns (those in Q13) and foodstuff in airtight packaging (those in Q15) are put together into the same plastic bag?
Yes, a PSB charge is applied because the plastic bag contains foodstuff in airtight packaging, which is not exempted under the PSB Charging.
Q. 17 Does a PSB charge apply if both foodstuff that has hygiene concerns (those in Q15) and non-foodstuff are put together into the same plastic bag?
Yes, a PSB charge is applied because the plastic bag contains non-foodstuff (mixed item), which is not exempted under the PSB Charging.
Q. 18 What is a "prepackaging bag", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A "prepackaging bag" refers to the bag which contains either unpackaged goods or more than one piece of goods and is sealed before the goods are supplied to the seller concerned.
Q. 19 What is a "bag forming part of the goods", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A bag is regarded as "forming part of the goods" and exempted from the PSB charge if —
  1. the bag is specifically designed for containing the goods; or
  2. the bag contains the goods, and the quality of the goods would deteriorate if they were not contained in the bag; or
  3. the goods are in liquid form and contained in the bag, or the goods are in liquid contained in the bag; or
  4. Information on how to consume or use the goods is printed, written or labelled on the bag.
Q. 20 Can a member of the public assume that he/ she does not have to pay any PSB charge when shopping at a wet market?
In general, plastic bags distributed at wet markets will be exempted due to food hygiene reasons. However, there are market stalls in which foodstuff in airtight packaging (e.g. canned food, bottled sauce, food in sealed bag or vacuum packaging, etc.) and non-foodstuff (e.g. household articles, clothing, religious articles, etc.) (mixed item) are offered for sale. In these cases, a PSB charge will be applied to the plastic bag containing these items.
Q. 21 Is the plastic bag subject to charge if eating utensils and airtight packaged sauces are put into the bag that contains exempted take-away foodstuff? [NEW]
The exemption arrangement would still apply because such eating utensils and airtight packaging sauces are considered as the appendages for the take-away foodstuff. However, based on the “Use Less, Waste Less” principle, we encourage eateries to give out the above-mentioned appendages only when necessary and to reduce the packaging of the utensils so as to avoid wastage.
Implementation
Q. 22 How could the public support the PSB Charging?
The PSB Charging aims to create a direct economic incentive to encourage members of the public to switch to reusable shopping bags or reuse plastic shopping bags. By so doing, they could help reduce the indiscriminate use of plastic shopping bags and avoid the PSB charge. When purchasing fresh food or foodstuff without packaging, one can also do more by bringing containers such as food boxes so as to further cut down on the use of plastic bags.
Q. 23 Is it a violation of the law if a retailer charges the customer for the plastic bag, which is exempted under the Ordinance? [NEW]
The Ordinance specifies conditions under which the PSB charge would not apply. Retailers may establish measures to reduce the use of plastic bags according to their commercial decision or green policies. However, in order to avoid any misunderstanding and confusion, retailers should display proper notice and inform customers that the PSB charging arrangement is based on company's policy
Q. 24 What is the hotline for enquiry and complaint?
For enquiry about the PSB Charging, please contact us at:
Hotline: (852) 3152-2299
Email: psb@epd.gov.hk
Fax: (852) 2305-0453
Post: Full Implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging
Environmental Protection Department,
28/F., Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road,
Wanchai, Hong Kong

For Trade

General Matters
Q. 1 What is the objective of the full implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging (the PSB Charging)?
Riding on the success of the first phase of the Plastic Shopping Bags Levy Scheme, the PSB Charging is implemented with a view to reinforcing the good habit of “Bring Your Own Bag”.
Q. 2 What is the amount of the plastic shopping bag charge ("PSB charge")?
Retailers/sellers must charge at least 50 cents for each plastic shopping bag provided to their customers, except those exempted plastic bags.
Q. 3 Can a retailer provide plastic bags for free?
Save for those plastic bags provided under exemption arrangements, retailers cannot give out plastic bags to customers for free. Neither the retailers can pay the PSB charge for the customers, nor can they offer discount or rebate to customers to offset the PSB charge. Retailers must charge the customers at least 50 cents for each plastic bag provided if such bag is provided at the time of the sale, for promoting the goods or otherwise in connection with the sale.
Q. 4 Can a retailer pay the PSB charge for a customer?
A retailer cannot pay the PSB charge for his/her customer, otherwise commits an offence.
Q. 5 Can a retailer provide rebate or discount to his/her customer with the effect of directly offsetting the PSB charge?
The retailer must not offer any rebate or discount to the customer with the effect of directly offsetting the amount charged for the plastic shopping bag provided or any part of that amount, otherwise commits an offence.
Q. 6 What would happen if a customer refuses to pay the PSB charge?
A retailer shall not provide plastic bags to a customer if he/ she refuses to pay the PSB charge.
PSB Charging Implementation Date
Q. 7 When will the PSB Charging come into effect?
The PSB Charging will commence on 1 April 2015.
Scope of the PSB Charging
Q. 8 What types of outlets are covered under the PSB Charging?
The PSB Charging includes all points of retail sales of goods, irrespective of the scale of the business (e.g. chain stores, SMEs, hawkers) and the nature of the business (e.g. street level shops, upper floor shops, sales via mail order or internet). For those outlets whose primary business is to provide service and at the same time have also taken part in the retail sales of goods (e.g. hairdressing salons selling hair care products, tutorial schools selling books and stationery), the retailers will also need to charge the customer at least 50 cents for each plastic bag provided when conducting retail sales of goods.
Q. 9 Does a customer need to pay the PSB charge for small plastic bags when small items are purchased? [NEW]
Full implementation of the PSB Charging came into effect on 1 April 2015. When shopping involves small items that may not be carried around easily, we encourage the public to bring their own shopping bag or suitable containers to carry the purchased items.
Plastic Shopping Bags Subject to Charge
Q. 10 What is a "plastic shopping bag"?
A bag is a "plastic shopping bag" covered under the PSB Charging if –
  1. it is made wholly or partly of plastic; and
  2. whether or not there is a handle, handle hole, perforated line for tearing out a handle hole, carrying string or strap, or any other carrying device on, or attached to, the bag.
Plastic includes but is not limited to polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and nylon. Shopping bags with plastic content are considered as "plastic shopping bags" under the PSB Charging. For example, paper shopping bags with plastic content such as plastic lamination or plastic handles or string handles having plastic stubs at the end are "plastic shopping bags". Similarly, non-woven bags made of polypropylene are also "plastic shopping bags".
Q. 11 Why "flat-top bag" is subject to charge?
It is common for members of the public to use "flat-top bags" in carrying fresh food or foodstuff without packaging. Yet, "flat-top bags" are also being used to contain non-foodstuff or foodstuff that has no hygiene concerns. To put this abusive behaviour to a halt, "flat-top bags" will also be subject to the PSB charge under the PSB Charging. As we have introduced food exemption provisions where plastic bags used solely for food hygiene reasons will be exempted from the PSB charge, the current practice of using "flat-top bags" to contain fresh food or unpackaged foodstuff on hygiene grounds will not be affected.
Q. 12 Why "non-woven bag" (sometimes known as environmental bag) is subject to charge?
"Non-woven bag" is also made of plastic so it is covered under the PSB Charging.
Q. 13 Does a PSB charge apply to each bag contained in a pre-packaged pack of plastic bags sold (e.g zip-lock bags, garbage bags)?
A retailer only needs to charge the customer an amount not less than 50 cents for each pre-packaged pack of 10 or more plastic bags. However, at least 50 cents should be collected from the customer for each bag should the pre-packaged pack has 9 or less bags.
Q. 14 Is it a violation of the law to provide more than one plastic bag to contain foodstuff, which is exempted due to food hygiene reason? [NEW]
The Ordinance does not specify the number of plastic bag that could be provided free of PSB charge in situations where exemption due to food hygiene reasons apply. It is not against the law if more than one plastic bag is provided in such case. Nonetheless, plastic bag should not be distributed and used excessively by retailers and customers. Customers are advised to use their own shopping bag as far as possible.
Exemption Arrangements
Q. 15 What are the types of exemption arrangements under the PSB Charging?
Under the PSB Charging, there are three types of exemptions:
  1. Bag used for food hygiene reasons
    A bag that only contains an item of food, drink or medicine (collectively as "foodstuff") for human or animal consumption where the item is -
    1. without packaging; or
    2. in non-airtight packaging; or
    3. in frozen or chilled state (regardless the packaging method).
  2. Bag used for packaging
    A bag that –
    1. contains either unpackaged goods or more than one piece of goods and is sealed before the goods are supplied to the seller concerned; or
    2. forms part of the goods concerned.
  3. Bag provided with the services
    A bag provided to customer which forms part of the services with no retail sales of goods involved.
In the circumstances mentioned above, the plastic bag given out will not be subject to the PSB charge.
Q. 16 Does the exemption of PSB charge apply to all types of foodstuff sold?
Due to food hygiene reasons, plastic bag used to carry the following types of foodstuff could be exempted from the PSB charge under the PSB Charging –
  1. foodstuff without packaging; or
  2. foodstuff in non-airtight packaging; or
  3. foodstuff in chilled or frozen state (regardless the packaging methods).
Nevertheless, we encourage retailers to minimize the provision of plastic bags to customers proactively so as to further curb the excessive use of plastic bags.
Q. 17 Does a PSB charge apply to all foodstuff in airtight packaging?
A PSB charge applies to foodstuff in airtight packaging which is not in chilled or frozen state.
Q. 18 What is a "prepackaging bag", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A "prepackaging bag" refers to the bag which contains either unpackaged goods or more than one piece of goods and is sealed before the goods are supplied to the seller concerned.
Q. 19 What is a "bag forming part of the goods", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A bag is regarded as "forming part of the goods" and exempted from the PSB charge if —
  1. the bag is specifically designed for containing the goods; or
  2. the bag contains the goods, and the quality of the goods would deteriorate if they were not contained in the bag; or
  3. the goods are in liquid form and contained in the bag, or the goods are in liquid contained in the bag; or
  4. information on how to consume or use the goods is printed, written or labelled on the bag.
Retailers selling foodstuff
Q. 20 Can a wet market seller assume that he/ she does not need to collect any PSB charge from the customer for the plastic bag provided?
In general, plastic bags distributed at wet markets will be exempted due to food hygiene reasons. However, there are market stalls in which foodstuff in airtight packaging (e.g. canned food, bottled sauce, food in sealed bag or vacuum packaging, etc.) and non-foodstuff (e.g. household articles, clothing, religious articles, etc.) are offered for sale. In these cases, a PSB charge will be applied to the plastic bag containing these items.
Q. 21 Can a restaurant operator assume that he/ she does not need to collect any PSB charge from the customer for the plastic bag provided?
In general, plastic bags given out at restaurant will be exempted for (i) carrying take-away food that has food hygiene concerns, or (ii) packing up left-over food that forms part of the dine-in services. However, where there is retail sales of foodstuff involving airtight packaging (e.g bottled sauce, canned or bottled drinks, festival food), the plastic bag distributed will be subject to PSB charge.
Q. 22 Is the plastic bag subject to charge if eating utensils and airtight packaged sauces are put into the bag that contains exempted take-away foodstuff? [NEW]
The exemption arrangement would still apply because such eating utensils and airtight packaging sauces are considered as the appendages for the take-away foodstuff. However, based on the “Use Less, Waste Less” principle, we encourage eateries to give out the above-mentioned appendages only when necessary and to reduce the packaging of the utensils so as to avoid wastage.
Retailers selling non-foodstuff
Q. 23 Can a retailer assume that he/ she has to apply a PSB charge for every plastic bag provided to customers?
In general, retailers selling non-foodstuff have to charge the customer an amount not less than 50 cents for every plastic bag provided, except those sealed bags for prepackaging or those bags forming part of the goods, which will be exempted under the PSB Charging.
Q. 24 What is a "bag forming part of the goods", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A "bag forming part of the goods" refers to a bag which has special function or purposely designed for the goods involved. For example, a transparent bag for a new shirt, a cooler bag for ice-cream, a protective bag for leather product.
Retailers selling foodstuff and non-foodstuff
Q. 25 Does a PSB charge apply if both foodstuff that has hygiene concerns (those in Q16) and foodstuff in airtight packaging (those in Q17) are put together into the same plastic bag?
Yes, a PSB charge is applied because the plastic bag contains foodstuff in airtight packaging, which is not exempted under the PSB Charging.
Q. 26 Does a PSB charge apply if both foodstuff that has hygiene concerns (those in Q16) and non-foodstuff are put together into the same plastic bag?
Yes, a PSB charge is applied because the plastic bag contains non-foodstuff, which is not exempted under the PSB Charging.
Service businesses with sales of goods
Q. 27 Can a service provider assume that he/ she does not need to apply PSB charge at any time?
For those primary service businesses where there are no retail sales of goods, plastic bags given out will not be subject to the PSB charge. On the other hand, for those outlets whose primary business is to provide service and at the same time have also taken part in the retail sales of goods (e.g. hairdressing salons selling hair care products, tutorial schools selling books and stationery), the retailers will also need to charge the customer at least 50 cents for each plastic bag provided when conducting retail sales of goods.
Q. 28 What is a "bag provided with the services", which is exempted from the PSB charge?
A "bag provided with the services" refers to a bag which forms part of the services with no retail sales of goods involved. For examples, a plastic bag containing cleaned clothing from laundry service, x-ray report from laboratory, and rented gowns from bridal shop.
Implementation
Q. 29 How could a retailer support the PSB Charging?
The PSB Charging aims to create a direct economic incentive to encourage members of the public to reduce the use of plastic bags. Therefore, retailer should minimize the distribution of plastic bags proactively at the time of the sale, for promoting the goods or in connection with the sale. If a customer insists to obtain a plastic bag, the retailer shall charge for the bag in accordance with the legislative requirements. Based on the "Use less, Waste less" principle, we do not encourage switching to paper bags from plastic bags in order to avoid the PSB charge.
Q. 30 Is it a violation of the law if a retailer charges the customer for the plastic bag, which is exempted under the Ordinance? [NEW]
The Ordinance specifies conditions under which the PSB charge would not apply. Retailers may establish measures to reduce the use of plastic bags according to their commercial decision or green policies. However, in order to avoid any misunderstanding and confusion, retailers should display proper notice and inform customers that the PSB charging arrangement is based on company's policy
Q. 31 What should a retailer do with the PSB charge collected?
The PSB Charging adopted the "retention" approach whereby retailers may retain the PSB charge without the need of remitting to the Government. We encourage retailers to donate the income generated from the PSB charge to support suitable environmental causes.
Q. 32 What are the consequences if a retailer does not charge his/ her customer for the plastic shopping bag provided?
If the Environmental Protection Department has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed the following offence at the time of the sale:
  1. Failed to charge the customer an amount not less than 50 cents for each plastic shopping bag, or each pre-packaged pack of 10 or more plastic shopping bags, provided by the seller directly or indirectly to the customer ; or
  2. Offered rebate or discount to the customer with the effect of directly offsetting the amount or any part of the amount charged for each plastic shopping bag, or each pre-packaged pack of 10 or more plastic shopping bags, provided by the seller directly or indirectly to the customer,
the Environmental Protection Department may issue the person a fixed penalty notice offering the person an opportunity to discharge the liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.

For breaches of serious nature such as repeated or systemic contraventions, the Environmental Protection Department may initiate prosecution through criminal proceedings and the offender is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $100,000 on the first occasion and $200,000 on each subsequent occasion.
Q. 33 Where can a retailer obtain the publicity materials for the PSB Charging? [NEW]

Retailers can download the electronic versions of the publicity materials from this link:
http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/psb_charging/en/publicity_materials/

Retailers can also go to the public enquiry service centers (PESCs) of the Home Affairs Department in each district to get a printed copy of the publicity materials from the counter. For details of the addresses and office hours of the PESCs, please refer to this link:
http://www.had.gov.hk/en/public_services/public_enquiry_services/ctec.htm

Retailers can also obtain small quantities of materials from the offices of the EPD.

Location

Address

Revenue Tower Office

33/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices

8/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon

Regional Office (East)

5/F, Nan Fung Commercial Centre, 19 Lam Lok Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon

Regional Office (South)

2/F, Chinachem Exchange Square, 1 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Regional Office (West)

8/F, Tsuen Wan Government Offices, 38 Sai Lau Kok Road, Tsuen Wan, N.T.

Regional Office (North)

10/F, Shatin Government Offices, No.1 Sheung Wo Che Road, Sha Tin, N.T.

Southorn Centre Office

25/F, Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

For bulk request of publicity materials, retailers can contact EPD by telephone (3152 2299) or email (psb@epd.gov.hk) for submitting their request.

Q. 34 What is the hotline for enquiry and complaint?
For enquiry about the PSB Charging, please contact us at:
Hotline: (852) 3152-2299
Email: psb@epd.gov.hk
Fax: (852) 2305-0453
Post: Full Implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging
Environmental Protection Department,
28/F., Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road,
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Fixed Penalty Notice
Q. 35 What is a "Fixed Penalty Notice"?
Pursuant to Section 28A of the "Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance" (Cap 603), if the Environmental Protection Department has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed an offence of not charging the customer for the plastic shopping bag provided at the time of the sale, the Director may give the person a "Fixed Penalty Notice" of $2,000.
Q. 36 How should the fixed penalty of a "Fixed Penalty Notice" be paid?
The fixed penalty should be paid according to the payment instructions stated on the overleaf of the Fixed Penalty Notice within 21 days of its issue in order to discharge the liability of the contravention.