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April 20th, 2016:

Law must make drinks firms pay for bottle waste, new Hong Kong green group says

The Green Earth is urging authorities to revisit an old pledge to introduce legislation on a ‘polluter pays’ scheme for plastic bottles

The city’s newest green group is urging authorities to revisit an old pledge to introduce legislation on a “polluter pays” scheme for plastic bottles.

The Green Earth said further delays to producer responsibility legislation would mean 132 tonnes, or five million PET plastic bottles, will continue to be disposed of every single day. The figure has nearly doubled from a decade ago.

“The previous administration set a road map for a PET plastic bottle producer responsibility scheme in place by 2008 but there’s been no news since,” said the group’s executive director Edwin Lau Che-feng. “If nothing is done now, the crisis will continue.”

The failure to implement such a scheme has meant about 12 billion bottles would have been disposed of since 2008 which Lau calculated would be “enough to circle the earth 58 times”. PET bottles take hundreds of years to fully decompose.

Lau urged the government to commence preliminary work on draft legislation such as business impact assessments to analyse how a charge on PET would affect or disrupt enterprises.

“[Beverage] producers have a corporate responsibility to bear some of the cost of all this waste given the profits they make,” said Lau. On the consumer side, he said the government could be doing more to promote plastic bottle recycling or adding more public water fountains.

A deposit scheme where consumers can get money back for returning bottles could also be worth considering.

A producer responsibility scheme requires manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to share the responsibility for the collection, recycling, treatment and disposal of products to reduce environmental impact at the post-consumer stage.

Producer responsibility legislation is in place for plastic bags, certain waste electrical appliances and is under way for glass beverage containers.

The Environmental Protection Department said it would continue to examine whether it was necessary or appropriate to implement the scheme.
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