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Two drug stores convicted for illegally providing free plastic shopping bags
     Two drug stores which provided plastic shopping bags (PSBs) without charging the customers were fined $6,000 and $10,000 respectively by Kwun Tong Magistrates' Courts today (March 30) for contravening the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance (PERO).

     A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said that the first case involved a drug store at Lok Shan Road in To Kwa Wan. During an inspection in September 2016, EPD staff found that some PSBs were hanging on a lamp post outside the drug store and customers were asked to take the PSBs by themselves without any charge. As it was a planned action to evade charging customers for plastic bags as required by the law, the EPD subsequently prosecuted the drug store in accordance with the PERO.

     The other offending drug store is located at Kwai Hing Estate Arcade. The EPD issued a fixed penalty notice to the drug store owner in September 2015 for providing free PSBs to customers. EPD staff conducted another surprise check at the drug store in September 2016 and found that it was again illegally providing free PSBs to customers. The EPD then laid a summons to initiate prosecution against the drug store.

     The spokesman reminded all drug stores and other retailers that according to the PERO, sellers have to charge customers not less than 50 cents for each PSB directly or indirectly provided for the retail sale of goods, except in situations where there is an exemption. The spokesman said that it is an offence if a retailer intentionally uses various means to provide customers with PSBs for free. The EPD will issue a fixed penalty notice of $2,000 to retailers who are found to have contravened the requirements. Prosecution will be initiated for repeat or serious contraventions, for which first-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $100,000.

     Since PSB charging was fully implemented on April 1, 2015, as at March 29 this year the EPD had conducted more than 79 000 inspections at different retail points, with 358 fixed penalty notices issued and 10 prosecution cases initiated against those violating the PSB charging requirement.
Ends/Thursday, March 30, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:55
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