How to reduce consumption of plastic bags

Korea plans to ban plastic bags in supermarkets and malls this year to further tighten its crackdown on plastic waste. At present, Korea has in effect a plastic bag levy scheme making it compulsory for retail shops to charge extra fee for plastic bags. The new plan is about to further reduce the use of plastic bags, obliging the 11,000 supermarkets and 2,000 shopping malls to provide instead recycled paper bags, cardboard boxes or reusable bags.

The plan is a stricter enforcement against the use of plastic bags, which eliminates the use of plastic bags at one of the major consumption sources. Hong Kong imposed the first phase of an environmental levy on plastic shopping bags in 2009, which came into full force in 2015 to extend to more than 100,000 retail points. Though the levy yielded a significant decrease in the landfill disposal of plastic bags from the retail industry in the initial phase, consumption of the bags rebounded in 2016 at more than 9%. A more stringent approach may be needed to cut down on the usage.

Imposing a ban in the retail industry can be one effective measure. Hong Kong may learn from Korea in the fight against the consumption of plastic bags. Countries or regions such as Australia, China, Kenya, Chile, Karnataka in India, etc also ban the use of plastic bags. While it is vital for the government to take the lead in reducing plastic bag consumption, citizens’ environmental awareness to cut down on the usage is just as critical. Citizens can reduce plastic bag usage according to the 4R principles, namely reduce, reuse, recycle and replace.

In order to reduce the usage, we should only use plastic bags when necessary. Replacing plastic bags with reusable ones is an effective way. To make the most out of used plastic bags, we should reuse used ones. For example, we can clean the used plastic bags and save them in a tissue box to be easily dispensed for reuse. Making creative use of the plastic bags is also a good idea, such as crafting artistic decorations, recycled bags, umbrella wraps etc. We should avoid throwing plastic bags away by recycling the bags at the “brown” recyclables collection bins. By minimising the consumption of plastic bags and maximising the use, we can help build a greener city.


如何減少使用膠袋

南韓計劃今年內禁止超級市場和商場提供塑膠袋,現時韓國實行塑膠購物袋徵費,新政將進一步打擊塑膠廢物污染。韓國1.1萬間超市和2000個商場在新政下只能提供紙袋、紙箱或可重用膠袋代替膠袋。

南韓的膠袋新政嚴厲打繫塑膠袋,從消耗源頭減少使用膠袋。香港於2009年推行塑膠購物袋環保徵費計劃首階段,並在2015年全面實施,涵蓋逾100,000零售點。徵費計劃雖在首階段大量減少來自零售業的堆填區膠袋棄置量,但數字在2016年回升逾9%,若要改善情況,需更嚴厲的做法。

香港可學效南韓,禁止零售業提供膠袋。事實上許多國家或地區亦已實施無膠袋的做法,如澳洲、中國、肯雅、智利、印度的卡納塔克邦等等。雖然減少膠袋使用由政府帶頭至關重要,但市民有環保意識主動少用膠袋亦必不可少。市民可參考4R原則來減廢,即減少(Reduce)、重用(Reuse)、循環再用(Recycle)和替代(Replace)。

為了減少使用,我們應在必要時才使用,儘量以可重復使用的購物袋代替膠袋。如非必要用膠袋的話,膠袋使用後亦要物盡其用,例如,清潔後可用空紙巾盒放好方便下次使用。或創意利用膠袋,製作成藝術裝飾、環保袋或雨傘袋等,亦不失為廢物利用的好方法。如果要棄置膠袋,我們應該避免直接丟棄,而應把膠袋棄置到「啡膠樽」回收桶,讓膠袋得以循環再用。綠色城市需要市民的努力,以減少使用和物盡其用來減廢。