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Plastic Bag Tax Is Not The Way To Fight Pollution

Updated on Aug 11, 2008 – SCMP

I absolutely agree with Kevin McBarron (“Drastic changes needed to save environment”, August 6), in his response to Martin Brinkley’s letter (“Anti-plastic bag levy lobby must learn to live in the 21st century”, July 29), that a plastic bag ban is a placebo designed to fool people and convince them they are making a difference.

Mr Brinkley seems to have difficulty focusing only on the subject of the debate – supermarket plastic shopping bags. By emphatically defending the qualities of plastic bin-liners, he fails to understand why these are environmentally more harmful than the supermarket shopping bags.

Mr Brinkley suggested critics have implied that “all plastic bags are reused and ultimately serve as bin bags”; this is a distortion of what has been said. Various correspondents have always quoted the fact that 93 per cent of the respondents in the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) own survey reuse “supermarket plastic shopping bags” as rubbish bags, without using additional purpose-made plastic bin-liners. The same EPD survey also reveals supermarket plastic shopping bags only accounted for 20.3 per cent of all the bags disposed of in our landfills. It is known that plastic bags disposed of in landfills occupy less than 0.5 per cent of the total waste volume so they cannot be blamed for our landfill problems.

So, the more one reads the EPD’s public consultation report, the more one feels it has indeed no reasonable justifications for its so-called “environmental levy”.

This risible law on supermarket plastic shopping bags was blindly passed, even though such bags are positively contributing to the general environment.

The majority of Hong Kong citizens have been using and reusing them.

If supermarket plastic shopping bags were such environmental evils, why didn’t the government target those single-use plastic bin-liners also? Would environmental minister Edward Yau Tang-wah care to explain this?

Alex F. T. Chu, Clear Water Bay

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