Incentive may play some role in dealing with plastic bag overuse in Hong Kong. Last week, our class had done a survey of supermarkets to find out how many people are still using plastic carrier bags a year and a half after the introduction of the 50-cent-per-bag levy. Most people we asked during the survey said they don’t use them because they have to pay. This is good in a way: it has led, according to the government, to a 90 per cent drop in use of these bags. But I wonder how far people are willing to volunteer to save the environment when saving money is not part of it.
One negative thing we noticed was that many people still take the small transparent plastic bags, which are free. This small bag cannot be recycled nor reused them.
Does this mean we have to regulate everything? Supermarkets only charge for normal plastic bags and give away the small transparent ones without any limit. For sure those plastic bags will have an impact on the environment because they cannot be recycled nor reused them. Whether Hong Kong needs a levy on those small bags depend on the public.
There are a lot for problems in solving the plastic bag problem: reusing plastic bags is unhygienic and reusable bags are difficult to keep clean and wash.
It is questionable whether the 90 per cent reduction really is a step forward to a solution.
To be fair, there are some people who really care about the environment but they are a small percentage of the population. We need the public to volunteer in this matter instead of waiting for a law to be passed.