Plastic Shopping Bag Charging Scheme


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.

First Phase of the PSB Charging Scheme (7 July 2009-31 March 2015)

The first phase of the PSB Charging Scheme (the Scheme) was implemented on 7 July 2009 targeting some 3,000 retail outlets mostly being supermarkets, convenience stores and medicare and cosmetics stores.  The amount of PSBs disposed of at landfills originated from the regulated sectors has dropped significantly from some 660 million before the implementation of the scheme (in mid-2009) to some 150 million one year after the implementation (in mid-2010).

However, the effectiveness of the first phase of the 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 Scheme.  On the whole, the community’s feedback was supportive to extend the 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 scrutiny, the LegCo passed the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, and the full implementation of the Scheme has taken effect since 1 April 2015.  The Product Eco-responsibility (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulation (Cap. 603A) sets out the implementation details of the scheme.

Bring Your Own Bag

Full implementation of the PSB Charging Scheme (1 April 2015 - 30 December 2022)

The Scheme has been fully implemented in the entire retail sector since 1 April 2015.  As compared with the first phase, the fully implemented Scheme has the following key features:

  •  Ban on free PSB distribution at all points of retail sales in the territory
  •  Save for 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 are subject to regulation
  •  Retention of the PSB charges by sellers


Upon the Government’s invitation, the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC) conducted a public engagement in 2021 on control of single-use plastics. The SDC submitted 24 recommendations in April 2022, including 12 recommendations to enhance the Scheme. The Government accepted SDC’s recommendations and reviewed the operation of the Scheme, recommending to introduce the enhanced Scheme. The subsidiary legislation for enhancing the Scheme was passed by the Legislative Council.

Current Phase of the PSB Charging Scheme (31 December 2022 - )

To maintain the effectiveness of the Scheme, on 31 December 2022, the Government implemented enhancement measures, including:

  • increasing the charging level per PSB from the current level of at least 50 cents to at least $1;
  • removing the present exemption for PSBs carrying frozen/chilled foodstuff items; and
  • tightening the exemption relating to foodstuff items such that free PSBs can only be provided when purchasing foodstuff items without packaging or not wholly contained in any packaging, or food and beverage takeaway items in non-airtight packaging, subject to the basic principle of "one free PSB per single transaction". (If the first free PSB cannot hold all of the foodstuff items, using one PSB may break the PSB, or placing all of the foodstuff items into one free PSB will compromise their quality, then one or more additional free PSB(s) could be provided.)


For implementation details, please click here.     

Reference Materials