As Hong Kong's government considers taxing plastic bags to cut down on waste, one environmental group wants the territory to turn its attention to expanded polystyrene packaging.
Hong Kong is expected to consider a broad package of ``producer responsibility'' legislation this year - starting with plastic bags - and the environmental group Friends of the Earth Hong Kong wants EPS packaging to be part of the debate.
To start the discussion, FOE and the Chinese Hong Kong EPS Association hosted an opinion-sharing forum in the city May 22, with prominent political figures, EPS industry representatives and other businesses.
Speakers included the head of the Hong Kong Legislature's Environmental Affairs Panel, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, and Raymond Fan, the deputy director of the territory's Environmental Protection Department.
Delvin Cheng, project officer with FOE Hong Kong, said the group does not have a specific legislative proposal for EPS packaging. But he said it wants the city look at how Japan and other places have reduced EPS waste, including measures like requiring retailers and supermarkets to take back used EPS packaging.
The head of the Chinese Hong Kong EPS Association, Leonard Law, said the group has worked for several years to boost EPS recycling in the city, but does not think there's enough waste from EPS to justify the government enacting a producer responsibility system for it.
The EPS group and FOE started partnering several years ago on collecting EPS waste and educating the public, and he said speakers at the forum will talk about how the global EPS industry has taken steps to boost recycling.
''Worldwide, EPS people are one of the groups more than willing to talk to governments on recycling,'' said Law, who also is president of Hong Kong-based EPS packager and recycler Hangsun Chemical Manufacturing Ltd.
FOE's Cheng said the group wants to focus initially on supermarkets and wet markets, logistics companies and firms that own and lease property.
Hong Kong set up collection points for EPS packaging from wet markets in 2005, but those could be expanded, he said. As well, logistic companies could be required to take back their shipping packaging, and new buildings could be mandated to collect EPS packaging from air conditioners and other equipment they install, Cheng said.
FOE is focusing on EPS because rising oil prices are increasing its value, and because collection programs can be centralized, he said. EPS makes up less than 1 percent of Hong Kong's waste stream by weight, but more by volume because it is light, Cheng said.
Any potential EPS measure would come as Hong Kong's Legislature plans to take up broad producer responsibility proposals this year for tires, electronics and other products.
The Hong Kong-based newspaper, The Standard, reported in March that the government was expected soon to introduce a HK 50 cent fee (US 6.4 cents) on each plastic bag sold, but government and industry officials said no legislation has yet been brought forward.