Shenzhen mulls measures to curb plastic bag use

Updated: 2007-08-30 07:14

By Michelle Leung(HK Edition)

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Shenzhen mulls measures to curb plastic bag use

GUANGZHOU: Shenzhen is expected to take measures to curb plastic bags use in supermarkets, but a green tax would not be imposed anytime soon, Nanfang Daily News reported.

In reply to some legislators' proposals earlier this year, the city's environmental protection bureau said last week it might "impose measures such as levying administrative charges or mortgage fees on producers and consumers (of plastic bags) to let them shoulder part of the social burden".

However, it ruled out the possibility of levying a plastic bag tax upon consumers, because the mainland adopts a who-produces-who-pays system.

Shenzhen will launch a pilot scheme to publicize the use of environmentally friendly shopping bags and reduce plastic bag consumption in a selected batch of supermarkets including Vanguard, Rainbow Department Store, Walmart and Shirble Department Store.

Currently 70 percent of the city's plastic bags, a major source of pollution, are distributed in supermarkets. Vanguard uses 250,000 plastic bags every month while Walmart uses more than 100,000.

Shenzhen may follow what some supermarkets in Hong Kong are doing.

Some Hong Kong supermarkets offer a HK$0.1 rebate to shoppers for every HK$25 worth of goods they buy. The rebate ceiling is HK$1 for each deal.

Some shops do not offer plastic bags on certain days in a month.

Shenzhen lawmakers and advisers, however, believed a plastic bag tax would be the most effective way to reduce the use of bags.

Zhang Yundong, a local legislator, cited South Korea and Ireland as examples.

South Korea started collecting 100 won for every plastic bag from 1999. It helped reduce the use of plastic bags by 60 percent. The 13 US cents tax in Ireland helped cut the use by 90 percent since 2005, Zhang said.

But, non-tax measures adopted by Beijing and Shanghai failed to achieve positive results so far, Zhang said.

"The best way is to prohibit the free use of plastic bags in supermarkets and wet markets," he added.

(HK Edition 08/30/2007 page6)