Pay to take plastic bags home in Hong Kong

I like this idea a lot:

Shoppers in Hong Kong are to be made to pay a tax on every plastic bag they take home in an effort to cut down on environmental pollution, officials said Monday. The government of the city of 6.9 million is to impose a charge of 50 Hong Kong dollars (0.60 US dollar) on plastic bags given out by supermarkets and retail chain stores after a successful trial in the city’s supermarkets.

Estimates by environmentalists suggest that Hong Kong people – who do not have a reputation for environmental friendliness, throw away 8 billion plastic shopping bags a year – or more than three bags per person per day.

The new tax, which will raise money for environmental projects in the territory, follows the success of a monthly “no plastic bag day” when shoppers were made to pay for any plastic bags they took away from supermarkets.

I think that Bangalore could benefit from this sort of legislation as well. The amount of plastic that we generate is huge. Mumbai is another city which would benefit–at least one beach was captured on film recently and it seemed to be swimming (unintended pun) in plastic.

I try and carry a cloth bag when I go shopping but I do get plastic bags every now and then, I’m ashamed to say. They are recycled but there’s only so much you can recycle.

And who knows what happens to the plastic once it goes out of our hands. Garbage to landfills to ground water to (drinking water or food) to us. Not good.

PS: I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but you don’t get plastic bags in Panaji market (or anywhere in Panaji I think). You carry your own bag or they wrap stuff in paper. You learn in a hurry to carry your own bags.


5 thoughts on “Pay to take plastic bags home in Hong Kong

  1. We use a TON of plastic in the US too, and most people don’t recycle. It’s a shame coz recycling here is so much easier than anywhere else. Maybe if walmart started charging us for the bags we use, then we’d use less. It’s scary to see how much plastic is used at the grocery stores in the US. It’d be funny if we had to carry our own bags to do groceries here. I think I’d spend a lot less money shopping too :)

  2. I avoid plastic bags as much as I can, but most places won’t allow me to walk out with my purchase without one – They dump my purchase into the bag, and seal it.

  3. Diana: When I was in the US, I remember that you could choose paper instead of plastic. It’s difficult to carry though I guess.

    jnarin: In some stores they’ll tape the bag or staple it so that you won’t steal stuff. I asked them not to do it in Westside once and gave the plastic bag back to the security guy who was clearly confused. He didn’t get the recycling memo.

  4. We are on a mission to avoid plastic. But its hard to make people realise the adverse effects of plastic. Some kind of law must be implemented in India also to avoid plastic.

  5. Annapurna: Yes, I think laws will help, but the greater impact will be with peer pressure and education. If you see the amount of plastic clogging drains in Bangalore, it’s mind boggling–it’s these drains that cause rainwater to overflow and create huge problems in the monsoons. Yet, people still insist on being careless. If in my neighbourhood, there were people who “policed” the place and discouraged trashing of drains, etc., things would be much better.

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