The Environment Bureau of the Hong Kong government announced Thursday that it will table the Product Eco-responsibility Bill at the Legislative Council on January 9 next year.
The bureau will provide a legal framework for implementing producer responsibility drives, with the environmental levy on plastic shopping bags as the first scheme under the bill.
Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau said on Thursday that the scheme is a key initiative in the Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014), complying with the polluter-pays principle and stresses the sharing of eco- responsibility.
It involves the phased introduction of an environmental levy of 50 cents on each bag distributed by retailers, with the first phase covering supermarkets, convenience stores and personal health and beauty stores.
Subject to the bill's enactment the implementation of the levy is due to start in the first half of 2009. The government will review the scheme's effectiveness after a year.
Yau said a two-month public consultation from May to July indicated an overwhelming public support for the proposed levy, with 88 percent of people backing the reduction of indiscriminate use of plastic bags and 66 percent accepting levying with 76 percent of them agreeing 50 cents is an appropriate charge.
"The introduction of the bill is to respond positively to this public aspiration on environmental protection. Our landfill survey suggests Hong Kong people dispose of more than three plastic shopping bags per person per day," Yau said, adding the levy can halve the number of bags distributed by retailers.
The government will also continue to work with green groups and retailers to strengthen public education on the reduction, reuse and recovery of plastic bags.
The bill will be gazetted on December 21.
(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2007)