Product Eco-Responsibility Bill Formulated In Hong Kong

Hong Kong says it will introduce the Product Eco-responsibility Bill into the Legislative Council to provide a legal framework for implementing producer responsibility schemes, with the environmental levy on plastic shopping bags as the first scheme under the bill.

According to a press release issued by the Hong Kong government, Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau said product recall schemes, deposit-refund schemes, advanced recycling fees and environmental levies will be incorporated into the bill.

"PRS [producer responsibility schemes] is a key policy initiative in the 'Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)' for waste reduction, recovery and recycling. It is in line with the principle of 'polluter pays' and emphasises the sharing of eco-responsibility," Yau said.

The scheme involved with platic shopping bags is a phased introduction of an environmental levy of 50 cents on each plastic shopping bag distributed by retailers, with the first phase covering chain or large supermarkets, convenience stores and personal health and beauty stores.

"Our landfill survey suggests that Hong Kong people dispose of more than three plastic shopping bags per person per day. It is estimated that the levy could help reduce about 50% of the plastic shopping bags distributed by the prescribed retailers," Yau said.

In parallel with the introduction of the environmental levy, the government says it will continue to work with green groups and retailers to strengthen public education on the reduction, reuse and recovery of plastic shopping bags.

The PER Bill will be introduced to the Legislative Council on January 9, 2008.

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