Liberty Intercept Blog

Bag Tax Increases Plastics Usage in Hong Kong

Posted by Elaine Spitz on Aug 17, 2011 6:51:00 AM

Blue Plastic Shopping Bag resized 600If you tax consumers for an item or service, you might expect them to use that item or service less to avoid paying tax. Unfortunately, the effect of Hong Kong's tax on plastic shopping bags has caused a 25% increase in the use of plastics since the levy began two years ago in July, 2009. Rather than reuse plastic shopping bags as trash bags, people have been purchasing reusable non-woven polypropylene bags for shopping and heavier-duty plastic trash bags for the purpose of garbage disposal, accounting for the increase in plastics usage.

According to an August 8 article in European Plastics News, a survey of 100 member companies of the Hong Kong Plastic Bag Manufacturers Association showed that Hong Kong’s 7 million residents used 78-80 tons of plastic per day in all types of bags before the levy started, but now use about 100 tons a day. Executive V.P. of the Association, Rickly Wai Ki Wong, stated for the article simply "We are concerned that the levy does not do any good for the environment".

Conversely, Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department claims the tax to be a success because it has helped change the behaviors of consumers, in that they are learning to bring their own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket. As with all change within a large system, the desired result may be reached gradually rather than instantaneously. With similar bans currently in place in Italy and the United States and more to come, time will tell whether enacting this type of ban is helpful.

Reduction of materials and smarter use of plastics is always a good idea, in our estimation.

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Intercept Technology Packaging products fit within a sustainability strategy because they are reusable, recyclable, do not contain or use volatile components (No VOCs, Not a VCI) and leave a smaller carbon footprint than most traditional protective packaging products.  

Topics: plastics, how to reduce waste

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