Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Macau’s contribution to the environment is in the bag

Posted by Kimberly on June 6, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 06, 2007, page 5 (650 words)


The environment council’s campaign to promote the use of green bags for consumer shopping began yesterday and will run until August 31.
Lionel Vai Tac Leong, President of the General Council hopes the promotion will encourage Macau citizens to be concerned about environmental issues.
“ That’s why we encourage them to bring their own bags instead of asking for more poly bags from supermarkets or from the merchants,” he said.
The campaign has been running since 2006 with a total of 57 organisations participating, up from 40 last year.
“So you can see that it doesn’t matter if it’s the citizens or even the small-to-medium enterprises or the governmental departments, we are all concerned about the environment and concerned about the negative impact that is caused by our rapid growing consuming power.
“We want to do something to lessen the negative impact,” he said.
He hopes that if consumers always carry an ecological bag when they go shopping, they will ask for less plastic bags or perhaps even none, but admits that the government could play a more active role “on the legislative side or also with incentives.”
Mr Leong said that the council lobbies the supermarkets to get involved but feels they understand, despite the lack of monetary incentives, that there is still plenty to be gained.
“They understand, by being involved, they have a good image and they have a pay back. Not only that more people will go to the supermarket and buy things, but also they will sell the corporate image. People will remember and they will go to the same place.
“So its not like we’re saying ‘if you don’t do that, we’ll penalise you’. I don’t think we are at that point,” he said.
According to Mr Leong, the negative impact has to be stopped from the very beginning rather than at the end of consumption.
According to a recent survey done by the department, 95 percent of those interviewed are willing to accept a poly bag tax, should this be actioned, but Mr Leong advises caution.
“Whether, really, 95 percent or more of Macau citizens are ready for the tax, we have to be very careful.
“We will seriously consider the opinions from the community, various government departments and also various social associations.
“We will carefully study this and if we find out the result is that really, lots of people, or even the majority of the Macau citizens, are willing to take a tax, then we will open the door,” he said.
He adds that his department will then suggest it to the taxation department as it is not within their jurisdiction.
With changes in the community accelerating at a rapid pace in recent years, it is evident that concern for the environment is at the top of the agenda for businesses and consumers alike.
“This is a good thing for Macau and we love to see progress,” said Mr Leong.
Asked whether the environmental council had looked at the impact of using green bags in other countries, Mr Leong said, “of course we cannot immediately apply what has already been implemented in Europe or in some other more advanced countries, because the citizens’ mentality and the educational background is different.”
But he adds that “as long as we never give up, as long as the government is keen on doing this, as long as this community is ready for this, then we can have a cleaner and greener Macau.”
The list of participating organisations include all branches of Park’n’Shop, Watsons and The Macau Cultural Plaza.
Customers who are seen to be shopping with an ecological bag at any of the participating organisations will be given a ticket for each occasion. Once six tickets have been collected, they can go into a draw to win thousands of patacas in prizes.
For more information please go to the environment council’s website at http://www.ambiente.gov.mo


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