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Retailers fined for Hong Kong bag fee fails

The first 15 Hong Kong retailers have been issued with penalty notices for failing to charge customers for plastic shopping bags.
The compulsory plastic shopping bag (PSB) fee was imposed on April 1 and after a grace period of one month when the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) only issued warnings to errant retailers, it began enforcing the new law on May 1.
In the first month, the EPD issued 15 fixed penalty notices to retail stores for failing to charge the 50 cent Hong Kong bag fee.
An EPD spokesman says the PSB charging has been working “smoothly” since its launch with the majority of retailers complying with the new requirement, while members of the public have generally adopted the green practice of BYOB (bring your own bag).
The spokesman said EPD officers have inspected more than 13,000 retail outlets since PSB charging was fully implemented on April 1.
Most of the 15 contraventions related to providing free PSBs for non-food items and involved different types of retail outlets, including shops selling metal and plumbing hardware, horticultural items or clothing as well as a grocery store, drug stores, a newsstand, a fixed-pitch hawker stall and a clinic selling toothbrushes. There were also a few contraventions related to providing free PSBs to hold food with airtight packaging, including a tin can of herbal candy and a sealed package of drink powder mix.
The spokesman reminded all retailers to fully comply with the legal requirement and to charge customers not less than 50 cents for each PSB provided for the retail sale of goods, except in situations for which there is an exemption.
A penalty notice carries a fine of $2000.
“During our inspections, it was found that most of the retail outlets complied with the new PSB charging requirement and only a very small number of retail outlets contravened the law. We also note that many more members of the public prefer to carry reusable shopping bags when shopping. Through various channels and public education campaigns, the EPD will continue to publicise the full implementation of PSB charging and promote the green BYOB habit among shop owners and the general public to reduce the use of plastic bags.”
The spokesman added that, to avoid misunderstanding when retailers charge more than 50 cents for each PSB provided or apply a PSB charge under exempted situations, the retailers should display a prominent notice at their shops to adequately inform customers that their charging arrangement is attributed to their company policy and not a legislative requirement.
Retailers can find more  information about PSB charging, on the EPD’s dedicated webpage, or contact the enquiry hotline at 3152 2299.

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