A-1 Bakery has been fined HK$5,000 by the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts after it was repeatedly caught giving plastic shopping bags to customers without collecting the plastic bag levy, hk01.com reports.
The bakery chain was fined for the first time in March 2016 by the Environmental Protection Department after its store at the Hong Kong International Airport had been caught giving a free plastic bag to a customer who bought a bottle of unchilled water.
It was slapped a HK$2,000 fine for violation of the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance.
The same store was found to have committed the same violation again in March this year.
A-1 Bakery is the first large retail chain to have received a fine under the plastic shopping bag charging scheme, which came into effect in April 2015.
The EPD has issued guidelines imposing a HK$2,000 fine on merchants that do not comply with the relevant regulations. Repeated or serious violations would result in a fine of up to HK$100,000.
Around 35 percent of local shops are still giving free plastic bags for purchased goods, according to a survey conducted by environmental protection group Greeners Action, which conducted undercover operation on 100 non-chain stores in July and August in eight districts.
Greeners Action executive director Angus Ho Hon-wai said there are still many shops that violate the ordinance simply because they do not care about the consequences.
Ho urges that the government to increase promotion of the plastic bag levy scheme, which provides that merchants must charge a levy of 50 HK cents for each plastic bag, and penalize violators.
So far the government has handed out 406 fixed-amount tickets to merchants found to have violated the scheme, and has made 15 prosecutions out of the 88,000 merchants they had investigated.
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