HK$1 per plastic shopping bag (PSB) starting December 31

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The Government reminded the retail trade and the public that the enhanced Plastic Shopping Bag (PSB) Charging Scheme (the Enhanced Scheme) would be implemented on December 31.

The enhancement measures include:

(1) increasing the charging level per PSB from the current level of at least 50 cents to at least $1;

(2) removing the present exemption for PSBs carrying frozen/chilled foodstuff items; and

(3) tightening the exemption relating to foodstuff items such that free PSBs can only be provided when purchasing foodstuff items without packaging or not wholly contained in any packaging, or food and beverage takeaway items in non-airtight packaging, subject to the basic principle of “one free PSB per single transaction”. (If the first free PSB cannot hold all of the foodstuff items, using one PSB may break the PSB, or placing all of the foodstuff items into one free PSB will compromise their quality, then one or more additional free PSB(s) could be provided.)

Examples of foodstuff items that are subject to or exempted from PSB charge after the Enhanced Scheme is implemented are at Annex.

For avoidance of doubt, plastic bags provided with service tendered (for example, plastic bags commonly used in clinics for patients to take away medicine prescribed by doctors after consultation) will not be charged as in the current arrangement as no retail sale of goods is involved, and they are not affected by the enhancement measures.

To familiarize the retail trade and the public with the upcoming Enhanced Scheme, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has rolled out a series of publicity activities, including new TV and radio Announcements in the Public Interest, poster, leaflet, advertisements on public transport, online advertisements, etc. and is updating the PSB Charging Scheme thematic website as well as the practical guidelines for reference by the trade and the public. If needed, please email to psb@epd.gov.hk to request for publicity materials.

In the first month after the commencement of the Enhanced Scheme, the EPD will first give verbal warnings to retailers who contravene the enhancement measures.

Enforcement action will follow should the retailers concerned fail to rectify the non-compliance.

Starting from January 31, 2023, no prior warnings will be given by the EPD and enforcement action will be taken should any contraventions be found.

A government spokesperson appealed to the retail trade to try not to let customers take PSBs by themselves and not to actively provide PSBs that are subject to a charge. The public should also cultivate the habit of bringing their own shopping bags to reduce waste at source.