Environment | Activist dissatisfied with gov’t’s slow implementation on MOP1 plastic bag

The call for the government to reduce plastic waste is entering into force today as single-use plastic bags in retail locations will now cost one pataca.
However, for local environmental activists, this is not enough to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Last year, a campaign against the use of single-use plastics drew thousands of petitioners to sign the online form, where local environmentalist Annie Lao was a part of the move.
The campaign came after a report issued by the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) showed that the SAR has failed to progress in waste control and management despite programs facilitated by the government.
In September, the Chief Executive has signed an order for the charge for a single-use plastic bag.
The bill is applicable to single-use plastic bags in retail locations which include supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries, and convenience stores. Parties not charging for such plastic bags may be subjected to a MOP1,000 fine for each plastic bag given away.
For Lao, the implementation of requiring the public to pay one pataca for a plastic bag does not meet the environmental group’s demand, stressing that such levy has been in placed in other regions for 10 years now.
In Hong Kong, the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags commenced back in 2009.
“I’m not satisfied because what we campaigned for is not only for the use of plastic bags. What we campaigned for was the use of single-use plastics. […] This law isn’t something new. This is something that has been discussed for over 10 years in Macau,” Lao told the Times.
“This is just a law that has been overdue for so long [when in fact] it should really happen. Now it is late anyway and one pataca doesn’t mean anything,” she added.
According to the State of the Environment of Macau 2018 report, the average person produced 2.17 kilos of solid waste per day in the city, slightly higher than last year’s 2.16 kilos.
The figure is the highest among nearby regions including Hong Kong and Guangzhou, which only recorded 1.45 kilos and 0.99 kilos of waste per person respectively.
Plastic waste recorded 22.5% of the city’s overall waste in 2018, slightly lower than last year’s figures, which stood at 23%.
The local environmental activist stressed that paying one pataca for a plastic bag is not a direct solution to the plastic waste problem. Rather, solutions should focus on creating a culture where bringing reusable bags to the market became a necessity.
“I know businesses will change to paper bags, but still they are disposable. Disposable [items] always cause problems to the environment,” Lao remarked.
Lao lamented that although the city is rich in its financial resources, the government lacks the political will to “do green for the city.”
“We need to move forward from this plastic bag law and think about when they [the government] should implement a law on the use of single use plastic,” said Lao.
“Since last year, the government hasn’t done much related to this matter. Of course, they had all these campaigns but if the government will not lead [by example], then businesses won’t follow,” she added.
Retail locations have been displaying promotional materials related to paid plastic bags and would be posted within two years of the law coming into effect.
Previously, the government expressed that it expects to reduce the use of plastic bags by at least 50% once the bill is implemented.
Research reports show that each Macau resident uses 2.2 plastic bags per day on average. In total, 450 million shopping bags are used each year.
Lao urged that the government should also consider imposing a waste disposal levy to alert large-scale businesses of their waste levels.
In Hong Kong, the city is pushing ahead with a mandatory waste-charging scheme in a bid to meet its rubbish reduction target for 2022.
“Macau lacks a good recycling facility. We have to be serious about this matter and we call for a waste tax,” she added.

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