Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ16: Non-woven shopping bags

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):


     After the completion of the consultation exercise on the Extension of the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags (the Scheme) by the Government last year, the Environmental Protection Department pointed out in its paper submitted to this Council that close to 70% of the respondents supported the extension of the Scheme.  It has been reported that since the implementation of the Scheme on July 7, 2009, quite a number of members of the public in Hong Kong have switched to using non-woven shopping bags which are commonly known as "eco-friendly bags".  Some industry groups have pointed out that the production volume of non-woven bags has surged by 96%, and that more plastic materials are needed to make a non-woven bag in comparison with a plastic T-shirt bag, and the excessive distribution of non-woven bags by shop operators has resulted in wastage.  In addition, the chemicals and dyes used for producing non-woven bags will also affect the environment.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Government has compiled statistics on the number of non-woven bags which were ordered and distributed by various government departments in the past four years while organising activities, conducting public education programmes and publicising government policies, as well as the amounts of money involved, and list the statistics in the following table;

Year  Government  Quantity of  Quantity of  Amount of
      department  non-woven    non-woven    money
                  bags         bags         involved
                  ordered      distributed

(b) whether, at present, the authorities have drawn up guidelines to prevent government departments from excessively distributing non-woven bags; if they have, of the details; if not, whether the authorities will consider drawing up the relevant guidelines;

(c) given that in the past four years, some public organisations and councils had distributed non-woven bags in various activities, of the total number of applications submitted by District Council (DC) members for funds to print non-woven bags which were approved by the Government and DCs in the past four years, as well as the amounts of money involved; whether the Government will request the relevant organisations and councils to reduce the distribution of non-woven bags; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and   

(d) in the course of extending the Scheme, whether the Government will, apart from extending the scope of the Scheme to all retailers, consider introducing additional measures (e.g. co-operating with environmental groups in publicising the use of linen shopping bags to replace non-woven bags), or adopting other administrative measures, in order to prevent shop operators from excessively distributing non-woven bags; if it will, of the details; if it will not, the reasons for that?



     Since the implementation of the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags (the Levy Scheme), the number of plastic shopping bags (PSBs) distributed by registered retailers has dropped significantly by nearly 90%.  Some groups have expressed concern that the drastic increase in the use of non-woven bags might have led to wastage.  Yet according to the landfill survey conducted in mid-2010, the disposal of non-woven bags is equivalent to only 0.4% of the overall PSB disposal.  The situation is therefore less than worrying as noted above.  

     My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) and (b) The Administration has not maintained statistics on the number of non-woven bags ordered and distributed by various government departments.  Nevertheless the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has issued guidelines on reducing the distribution of non-woven bags and has called upon the support of departments in considering the distribution of non-woven bags and other reusable shopping bags in their events only when there are practical needs.  

(c) There is no requirement under the existing system for District Councils (DCs) and DC members to include in their funding applications detailed reports of their non-woven bag orders.  Therefore, the Administration has not maintained the relevant statistics, but the Home Affairs Department will provide DCs with EPD's guidelines on non-woven bags for their reference.

(d) Non-woven bags, being made of plastic materials, are already covered under the current Levy Scheme and will remain so after the Levy Scheme has extended its coverage.  The Administration has been encouraging the public to reuse and recycle all types of PSBs including non-woven bags.  We will continue to step up publicity and public education so as to sustain the public's support in reducing the excessive use of PSBs.  There is at present a public education programme under the Environment and Conservation Fund for non-profit-making organisations to organise publicity and public education activities related to the management of municipal solid waste, including promotion of reduced use of non-woven bags at the community level.  We welcome applications from eligible organisations (including green groups).

Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:14


Print this page