Hong Kong shoppers pay the price for green living

Around six million plastic bags were sold to shoppers at the price of 50 Hong Kong cents each (6 US cents) in the first three months of the compulsory levy scheme, according to the Environmental Protection Department. The figure was calculated from quarterly reports submitted to the department by 21 of the 3,000 retailers collecting the levy.

However, the final figure is expected to be higher as the deadline for the remaining retailers to file their quarterly reports approaches at the end of October. Before the tax, Hong Kong people were using an average of about 1,200 plastic bags each a year, or about three plastic bags a day per person.

Around 30 million plastic bags a day were being thrown away in the densely populated city of seven million, accounting for some six percent of the 17,500 tonnes of rubbish sent to landfill sites every day. Immediately following the levy's launch, plastic bag use dropped by 85 percent while the number of people using their own bag grew by 56 percent. The money raised by the levy goes to the government.

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