Enhanced plastic shopping bag scheme reduces plastic bag distribution by over 60%

206

30th March 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has reported a significant reduction in plastic shopping bag distribution since the implementation of the Enhanced Plastic Shopping Bag Charging Scheme (the Enhanced Scheme) on 31st December, 2022. According to the EPD, major retailers have reported a drop of more than 60% in the overall distribution of plastic shopping bags (PSBs), excluding flat-top bags, from January to February 2023 compared to the same period last year.

The EPD has been working tirelessly to promote the Enhanced Scheme and to reach out to different types of retailers, particularly small retail outlets and market stalls, since its implementation. Staff has visited approximately 27,600 retail shops, including around 14,200 market stalls, in the first two months to promote and introduce the enhancement measures. The department has also employed various publicity methods such as TV and radio announcements in the Public Interest, posters, leaflets, advertisements on public transport, online advertisements, and the designated webpage (www.epd.gov.hk/epd/psb_charging/en/index.html).

The EPD staff has inspected about 4,100 retail points and issued a total of seven verbal warnings. So far, no fixed penalty notices have been issued due to non-compliance with the requirements of the Enhanced Scheme. The department will continue to monitor the PSB disposal rate and observe the usage of plastic bags at retail points to assess the effectiveness of the enhanced measures.

A spokesman for the EPD stated, “We are pleased to see that the Enhanced Scheme is effective in reducing the distribution of PSBs and hope that the public and retailers can continue to go plastic-free.” The department encourages members of the public to bring reusable shopping bags or their containers to contain foodstuff items to reduce unnecessary PSB usage. The EPD will continue to work with the trade to implement various waste reduction and plastic-free measures.

The reduction in plastic bag distribution is a significant milestone in the fight against plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is a pressing environmental issue that poses a severe threat to the ecosystem and public health. The implementation of the Enhanced Scheme has proven to be effective in reducing the distribution of plastic bags and encouraging the public to adopt environmentally friendly habits.