Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Just another type of plastic bags...Hong Kong retailers' answer to criticism

Hong Kong retailers have long been criticised for handing out too many plastic bags to their customers. And Hong Kong shoppers are notorious for putting their convenience above anything else. Environmental concerns are dismissed with a shrug. So far the government has failed to come up with legislation to reduce the overuse of plastic bags - a plastic tax would easily solve the problem, but goes against the neo-liberist ethos that ensures the interests of a minority overrule those of the majority. In this depressing context local retailers have come up with a solution that is worse than the problem.

Now they hand out non-woven, polypropylene tote bags... for free. These bags are worse than plastic bags as they can't even be recycled as bin liners. They just end up in landfills, as customers have no incentive to re-use them....they are free!

Making the customer pay for biodegradable plastic bags that can be re-used as bin-liners is the only way to reduce their number. Consumers would start bringing their own bags once they had enough bags for their bins. All non-biodegradable shopping bags should be banned. Easy. But apparently this solution doesn't please the lobby of plastic bags manufacturers, nor retailers who treat their customers like children who must be spoilt.


canadienne perdue said...

Another brilliant post. It's funny my father was from Hong Kong originally and he used to complain in Canada about how wasteful people are there. Now I'm not saying Canadians aren't wasteful (we are) but the level of waste in Hong Kong has got to be just as bad if not worse (with the exception of hopping into cars but I'm sure if people could afford to park cars, they would buy them and ignore the buses). The constant wasting of air conditioning, the plastic bag profusion, the belief that anything goes as long as you can pay for it. It's incredible the level of light consumption (parts of CWB and TST look constantly like it's the middle of the day even at 10 at night). It's scary that no one seems to give a thought about this, as if consuming energy at this level was totally normal and sustainable. Anyways keep up the good work.

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