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15 retailers fined in May for contravening requirement of plastic shopping bag charging

     With plastic shopping bag (PSB) charging fully implemented, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) issued 15 fixed penalty notices in May against contraventions of the new requirement.

     An EPD spokesman said today (June 2) that PSB charging has been working smoothly since its launch. The majority of retailers have complied with the new requirement, while members of the public have generally adopted the green practice of BYOB (bring your own bag).

     The spokesman pointed out that EPD officers have inspected more than 13,000 retail outlets since PSB charging was fully implemented on April 1. From May 1 to 31, 15 fixed penalty notices were issued to retailers who contravened the PSB charging requirement. Most of the contraventions related to providing free PSBs for non-food items and involved different types of retail outlets, including shops selling metal and plumbing hardware, horticultural items or clothing as well as a grocery store, drug stores, a newsstand, a fixed-pitch hawker stall and a clinic selling toothbrushes. There were also a few contraventions related to providing free PSBs to hold food with airtight packaging, including a tin can of herbal candy and a sealed package of drink powder mix.

     The spokesman reminded all retailers to fully comply with the legal requirement and to charge customers not less than 50 cents for each PSB provided for the retail sale of goods, except in situations for which there is an exemption.

     In the first month after the new PSB charging came into effect, verbal warnings were given by EPD officers when contraventions were found. From May 1 onwards, EPD officers no longer give prior verbal warning and instead take immediate enforcement action against any contraventions, including issuing fixed penalty notices of $2,000 or initiating prosecution proceedings.

     The spokesman said, "During our inspections, it was found that most of the retail outlets complied with the new PSB charging requirement and only a very small number of retail outlets contravened the law. We also note that many more members of the public prefer to carry reusable shopping bags when shopping. Through various channels and public education campaigns, the EPD will continue to publicise the full implementation of PSB charging and promote the green BYOB habit among shop owners and the general public to reduce the use of plastic bags."

     The spokesman added that, to avoid misunderstanding when retailers charge more than 50 cents for each PSB provided or apply a PSB charge under exempted situations, the retailers should display a prominent notice at their shops to adequately inform customers that their charging arrangement is attributed to their company policy and not a legislative requirement.

     For more information about PSB charging, please visit the EPD's dedicated webpage at, or contact the enquiry hotline at 3152 2299.

Ends/Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:31


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