Health :: Plastic bag fee details ready next year

Details of the proposed plastic bag fee are being finalised and a report will be released in the first quarter next year, Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao says.

Speaking on a radio talk show today, Dr Liao said the proposed fee would cut plastic bag use. The comprehensive report will touch on the administrative costs involved in implementing the plastic bag fee, the impact on the trade and mitigation measures, exemptions, and the use of the fees collected.

She pointed out that people were more aware of environmental protection, as about 1.8 million people have joined the source separation of waste. Also, the No Plastic Bag Day campaign had reduced the distribution of plastic bags at retail outlets. Under the campaign, consumers are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags or to pay 50 cents for each plastic bag they are given.

On the hill fire at Tai Lam Country Park, Dr Liao said the disaster had ruined a large amount of vegetation and polluted the air. Noting that the fire was caused by people’s carelessness, she said better arrangements for people burning joss sticks and paper on hillsides would be explored.

She stressed that environmental protection required every citizen’s participation and a change in people’s attitudes and habits. While it will take time to improve air quality, Dr Liao said she hoped the amount of pollutants in air could be reduced. Discussions with relevant parties on improving air-conditioning design and installation in buildings are also under way, with the aim of cutting electricity consumption.

When asked about the Court of Appeal’s decision on upgrading the sentences for two minibus drivers whose race through North Point in 2004 ended in a fatal accident to the maximum of five years, Dr Liao said the Department of Justice would follow up on the court’s suggestion to review the penalties for dangerous driving.

Noting one of the drivers was hired as a bus and minibus driver despite his numerous traffic offences, Dr Liao said the Transport Department would see if there was a need to tighten the admission requirements for public transport drivers. The possibility of tracing records of drivers’ traffic offences through the existing driving licence system would also be explored, she added.

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