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Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2013 to be gazetted

     For the purpose of extending the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags (PSB Levy Scheme), the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2013 will be published in the Gazette this Friday (May 3) and introduced into the Legislative Council for its scrutiny on May 8. The proposal received general support from the community when it was put to public consultation in 2011.

     The Bill seeks to extend the PSB Levy Scheme to cover the entire retail industry. Upon enactment and implementation, free distribution of plastic shopping bags (PSBs) will be banned at all points of sale. Members of the public will be charged at least 50 cents per bag as an economic disincentive to discourage the excessive use of PSBs.

     The extended scheme will cover all retail outlets including small and medium enterprises. In order to reduce their administrative burden, the Bill proposes that retailers may handle the PSB charge on their own without having to remit it to the Government. But the Government encourages them to favourably consider using such income to support environmental protection or other charitable causes.

     Implemented on July 7, 2009, the first phase of the PSB Levy Scheme has been effective in significantly reducing the distribution of PSBs from some 3,300 registered retail outlets.

     The Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, said that through extending the PSB Levy Scheme, the Government aims to deepen the public awareness of "Bring Your Own Bag". He added that he expects members of the public to adopt the habit of bringing their own bags, reducing not only the use of PSBs but also paper bags and other associated products and thus maximising the waste reduction impact. He also called for the support of the retail industry so that, in the spirit of corporate social responsibility, they will not seek to circumvent the PSB Levy Scheme by switching to paper bags or shopping bags made with other materials, which would result in more waste and undermine the "Use Less, Waste Less" culture in Hong Kong.

     The Bill will include certain exclusions so that members of the public will not be discouraged from using PSBs for food hygiene purposes.

     A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) added that in order to assist the retail industry and members of the public to understand the extended PSB Levy Scheme as soon as possible, the EPD will step up publicity and public education in phases so that the community can get ready for the scheme's implementation at the earliest opportunity.

Ends/Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:29


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