Hong Kong legislature split over lawmaker’s proposal to raise plastic bag fee to HK$2

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Hong Kong’s legislature has expressed mixed criticism of a lawmaker’s proposal to raise the city’s plastic shopping bag fee to at least HK$2, with some saying the charge would hurt the most. grassroots community.

Lawmaker Tony Tse told a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday that a HK$2 charge – double what the government plans to increase – would make people “think twice” about the whether they really needed a plastic bag. It would also encourage them to consider reusing it if they took one, Tse said.

Tony Tse. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The government said last month it had started the legislative process to raise the plastic bag fee from the current 50 cents to at least HK$1, but was open to suggestions for increases. additional.

The plastic bag tax was introduced in 2009. The policy initially targeted supermarkets, convenience stores and cosmetics stores, before being extended to all retailers in 2015.

“Grassroots Responsibility”

Lawmaker Kitson Yeung said the plastic bag charge was the “wrong direction” and shouldn’t exist in the first place.

He said grassroots citizens worked long hours and only bought groceries after work. If they were busy, they might forget to take a reusable shopping bag with them, he said, meaning they would have to pay for a plastic bag.

A sign in a store reminding customers of the HK$0.50 charge on plastic bags. Photo: GovHK.

“1 Hong Kong dollar is very important to them,” he said.

Yeung said the government should instead focus on educating the public about the importance of reducing their plastic consumption. Bruno Luk, deputy director of environmental protection (waste reduction tasks), said education was important but motivation was needed to change people’s habits.

Steven Ho, a lawmaker representing the functional agriculture and fisheries constituency, said the charge of plastic bags has pushed the task of environmental protection to the grassroots when it should be everyone’s duty .

Lawmaker Steven Ho. Photo: LegCo, via YouTube screenshot.

“Why is this the responsibility of the base? Why don’t the rich bear the responsibility? He asked.

Ho said the government should increase the plastic bag for free from the current 50 cents to 60 cents instead and require the amount to be paid in cash only.

HK$1 ‘not much money’

Lawmaker Chan Siu-hung, meanwhile, backed Tse’s proposal to raise the plastic bag fee to at least HK$2.

He said extending the tax to all shops in 2015 had been “very effective”, resulting in a significant drop in the number of plastic bags thrown away that year, but the figure rebounded as people were getting used to the 50 cent charge.

File photo: Pexels.

“Although the increase of 50 cents to HK$1 doubles [the amount], in the end, it’s not a lot of money. I’m afraid audiences will quickly get used to the fee again,” Chan said.

“I think in a few years, or a few decades, we will have to change the law to increase the charge on plastic bags again. [So] why doesn’t the government boldly increase it to HK$2 or more for a more drastic effect? ” He asked.

The increase in the levy, which will come into effect by the end of the year, will be the first time the charge has been increased since the scheme was introduced 13 years ago.

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