The EPD Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags in Hong Kong becomes mandatory on April 1.
The next generation believes more can be done. School students have set up a petition on Change.org urging fast food outlets to stop serving drinks in plastic bags, a practice that will be still be allowed under the new scheme.
According to Jameson McLennan, a 14-year-old student at Canadian International School who’s involved in the project, in 2010, all of China’s McDonalds used “enough plastic to cover half of Hong Kong Island in plastic waste one metre deep”. Coconuts Hong Kong
The new levy may be good news for the environment and landfills but not so good for trees. The idea is to encourage customers to bring their own bag, but some local retailers have already switched to paper bags to avoid charging customers 50 cents.
To transform virgin timber into paper, manufacturers consume more fresh water than any other industry on the planet and in return emit significant quantities of dioxin and other hazardous materials. (Environmental Protection Agency)
In an interview with Ecozine, Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh said the scheme has generated HK$163 million since it was launched on a voluntary basis in July 2009. The cash has been deposited into the general revenue account of the government, used to fund public services.
Government officials claimed the levy cut the number of plastic bags going to landfills by up to 90 per cent after its launch in July 2009. Unlike the initial scheme, the independent retailers affected by the expanded levy will not have to pass the cash to the government.
While the scheme is a step in the right direction, it is time look at the ugly truth about plastic bags, to consider the value of oil in the form of plastic and stop throwing it away in the name of convenience.
No one is sure how long a plastic bag takes to decompose, but estimates range from 500 to 1,000 years. Even then, they never fully biodegrade; they just break down into ever-tinier plastic pellets. Each year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die after getting entangled with bags or mistaking them for food. In 2010, a gray whale that was beached and died in Seattle was found to have more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach.
Mother Jones, 9/15/14
Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.
The Kellet kids have got some great information on green living in Hong Kong — our future is in good hands.
In other places, like California, public discussion begins as the issue will be placed on the ballot in the November 2016 election.