1. “Plastic Bag Culture” in Hong Kong
  2. |
  3. Plastic Bags and the Environment
  4. |
  5. Understanding the “Plastic Bag Charge”

“Plastic Bag Culture” in Hong Kong


  • Plastic bags accounts for over 50% out of the 13,000 tonnes waste sent to landfill each day
  • About 758 tonnes of plastic bags are disposed of in Hong Kong every day
  • An average of 14,000,000 of plastic bags are disposed of in Hong Kong every day
  • This amounts to the disposal of 2 plastic bags per person per day
  • In 2009, the government launched the first phase of the "Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags", and the number of plastic bags distributed by registered retailers has dropped by 90 per cent.

Plastic bag is cheap and convenient but it is not irreplaceable. The "Full Implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging" came into effect from 1 April, 2015. Act one step ahead and say "NO" to plastic shopping bags from now on.

* According to the 2012 data from the Environmental Protection Department

Plastic Bags and the Environment


Production

Oil Resources
  • The raw materials of plastic bags come from petroleum. To produce a plastic bag, it requires about 14ml (around 1 teaspoon) of petroleum.
  • A study shows that the world's petroleum resources will become exhausted within 40 years.
  • Wasting plastic bags is equivalent to wasting precious petroleum resources.

Global Warming
  • The process of producing plastic bags consumes large amount of electricity.
  • The electricity mainly comes from burning fossil fuels, which releases large amount of carbon dioxide and intensifies global warming.
  • Each plastic bag produced will generate 10 g of carbon dioxide.

Pressure to the Environment
  • A variety of chemicals are added in producing plastic bags, including plasticisers, stabilisers and colorants.
  • The usage of high amount of chemicals will add immense pressure to the environment

Consumption

Excessive Consumption
  • Plastic bags are easy and convenient to use, therefore we have been consuming more and more plastic bags. In Hong Kong, we disposed over 14,000,000 plastic bags per day.

Disposal

Occupying Land Resources
  • An average of 758 tonnes of plastic bags are disposed in landfills in Hong Kong every day.
  • A plastic bag requires hundreds to thousand years to fully decompose.
  • The three landfills in Hong Kong are forecasted to be saturated in 2- 6 years.
  • To use landfills for disposal of plastic bags takes up a lot of landfill space, causing sites to fill up rapidly.

Air Pollution
  • Incineration of plastic bags will generate air pollutants, contributing to air pollution.

Soil and Water Pollution
  • When plastic decomposes, toxins are released and enter rivers or seep into the soil, contributing to water or soil pollution.

Endangering Animals
  • Plastic bags are "death traps" for many seabirds and sea animals
  • Birds and other sea animals may mistakenly treat floating plastic bags as food.
  • Plastic bags cannot be digested and will accumulate in the stomach of the animals, which eventually cause death to the animals.
  • A study suggests that plastic bags are found in 40% of all dead turtles.

Visual Pollution
  • According to data, around 10% of disposed plastic bags are left scattered in urban, rural or coastal areas, such as on the pavement, hanging on trees or floating on the sea. These waste plastic bags may cause hygiene problems and become an eyesore.

A little reminder:

  • Non-woven fabric bags and paper bags with plastic components will do the same harm as plastic bags.
  • A non-woven bag has 10 times more plastic content than a plastic bag of similar size!

Understanding the “Plastic Bag Charge”


The first phase of the "Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags" was launched on 7 July, 2009, but was only enforced among certain retailers. The "Full Implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging" came into effect from 1 April, 2015 and covers shopping bags of all retailers in Hong Kong that contain plastic material. Retailers will collect a charge of HK$0.5 per bag (exempted items excluded).

Learn more about the "Full Implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging"

A little reminder:

  • An amount of not less than HK$0.5 shall also be charged for all non-woven bags, flat-top bags and paper bags with plastic components.

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