Faced with a growing municipal solid waste problem and limited landfill capacity, the Hong Kong Government proposed the introduction of a charge on plastic shopping bags as one of the first environmental ‘producer responsibility’ schemes. 

Waters Economics team members appraised the potential positive and negative impacts of this high profile and controversial policy, and made recommendations for its implementation. Of key importance was the mitigation of the unintended effects resulting from some of the details of the scheme. 

The plastic shopping bag charging scheme was introduced in 2008 and  extended to all retail outlets in 2015. Applying the scheme across all users over time was one of the key recommendations of the appraisal report. Although supported as a concept, the proposal to only use the proceeds from the charge for environmental purposes was not able to be pursued due to government financial regulations. 

Main image by B Kua

Core Techniques

Regulatory Appraisal | Demand Forecasting | Economic Impact