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Policy-Making Process


Public policy is a design of legislation, governmental procedures, plans of action, and financial preferences addressing a certain issue proclaimed by a governmental organization or its civil servants (Wong and Lo, 2021). The state’s or public officials’ policies are only relevant inside a state or a certain environment. A concerned group initiates a public policy by identifying a problem requiring action. The agency of policy-making in Hong Kong functions as a government wing, facilitating policy-making and execution operations. One of the recent policies projected in Hong Kong is the plastic shopping bags policy adopted to aid in managing the manufacture and usage of plastic bags both in public and private places in Hong Kong. This paper, therefore, seeks to critically evaluate this plastic shopping bag policy to identify its development processes.

Plastic Shopping Bag Public Policy

The Hong Kong plastic shopping bag sustainability levy is a tax meant to limit the production and sale of plastic shopping bags (PSBs) in Hong Kong. PSBs are constructed of non-biodegradable materials. The widespread disposal of PSBs affects Hong Kong’s inadequate waste disposal capacity, resulting in serious waste concerns (Lee, 2020). PSB pricing went into effect in its entirety on April 1, 2015. For every paper bag supplied, all shops are expected to collect at least HK$0.50. A resolved note of HK$2,000 was levied on shops that failed to follow this act to standardize the enforcement system and increase the practical impact.

Policy-Making Process

Issue Identification

Recalling Anderson’s concept of public policy, it is defined as a deliberate course of action taken by an entity to address a subject of interest. Before a policy can be implemented, there must be a recognized problem or issue that requires attention (Wan et al., 2018). The plastic bags released into the environment have become an environmental pollution problem in Hong Kong. Plastic bags are made from materials that are not easily degradable; therefore, there were a lot of plastic bags in the environment, which made the city appear dirty and unorganized. The pollution, therefore, necessitated a course of action.

Agenda Setting

In policy development, John Kingdon provides three elements for establishing the objective. The three streams are the problem stream, policy stream, and political stream. The recognized problem is projected in the problem stream, while the recommended remedies are presented in the policy stream. The political stream, which includes government predictions and initiatives from interested parties, aids in policy creation(Jones, 2021). The policy actors in the plastic bags initiative were the public and political parties. According to a public opinion poll performed by Lee (2020), the presence of plastic bags in the environment was unfavorable to the environment. The public views, therefore, were used to initiate the policy agenda. In the meetings held by the Legco Panel on Environmental Affairs, the vast majority of political parties and deputations backed the plan of managing the plastic bags release.

Policy Formulation

The formulation of policy by Mak et al. (2017) is done After issues have been recognized and an agenda has been created, the procedure of describing, assessing, and approving or disapproving choices. Paul Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalitions can help guide the policy-making process. Paul believes that a subgroup of players in the policy subsystem is responsible for formulations. The scholar says that in constructing policies, positions of expertise and objectives are blended to attain shared aims.

Policies are formed by state and society actors bound together by several shared concepts and wisdom. The general public had a belief that specific regulations of plastic bag manufacturers would help in environmental pollution management. Verweij et al. (2016) conducted the political party’s thorough research. It is believed that plastic bag providers need to be charged for every bag provided to discourage their manufacturers. The collected views aided in the making of combined goals of environmental conservation. Therefore, the views and the goals drove the idea into the decision makers’ court for effective decision making.

Decision Making

Decision-making is a written or informal declaration of purpose by approved state actors to adopt or refuse to take a certain action. The rationalist model may be used to evaluate the plastic bag policy implemented in 2015. According to the concept, it must be guided by defined aims and objectives (Verweij et al., 2016). All options and ramifications are thoroughly researched and considered. Each option is identified as a separate path of action. There were clear objectives of eliminating plastic waste and reducing manufacturers. Therefore, the decision-making of imposing extra charges on manufacturers was driven by this objective. The model also projects that costs and benefits need to be evaluated. The decision made should have more benefits than costs. The legislative council and the policy-making department evaluated the policy to be more beneficial

Policy Implementation

Zhong (2016) is a symbol that expresses The top-down theory of implementation as a paradigm of planning and implementation in which administration forces a policy on the employees to obey. The paradigm is also relevant in a government when the state is responsible for ensuring that citizens obey policy requirements. In Hong Kong, the SAR Government is in charge of executing the six primary authorities and duties of policy formulation and implementation. The SAR Government implemented the plastic bags scheme with all regions and citizens of Hong Kong adhering to the policy directives.


The review process, result assessment, impact evaluation, and economic evaluation are four general categories of the most often used proposed evaluation categorizations as projected by (Bou-Karroum et al. (2016). The procedure aids in identifying a variety of policy-related accomplishments. According to polls done by the National Policy Unit to evaluate the levy’s performance, 80% of interviewees said the Scheme had aided them in developing the habit of bringing their backpacks to shopping centers. People respond well to de-incentivizing the usage of plastic bags. The policy, therefore, achieves the outcome and impact evaluation effect. The policy’s original objectives were greatly achieved in the cost-benefit analysis due to the increase in the use of Sustainable bags.


Policy-making is a critical phenomenon requiring sequential formulation and implementation procedures. For a policy to come into effect, there should be a problem or an issue of concern. An agenda is therefore set according to the issue. Policy formulation and decision-making are projected following the set goals and objectives. After a policy decision has been made, there is a need for effective implementation and evaluation to achieve its intended targets. From the analysis, the plastic shopping bag scheme followed all the policy-making processes as presented, leading to its successes and effective implementation.


Bou-Karroum, L., El-Jardali, F., Hemadi, N., Faraj, Y., Ojha, U., Shahrour, M., Darzi, A., Ali, M., Doumit, C., Langlois, E.V. and Melki, J., 2017. Using media to impact health policy-making: an integrative systematic review. Implementation Science12(1), pp.1-14.

Jones, B., 2021. The policy-making process. In Politics UK (pp. 590-616). Routledge.

Lee, D.S., 2020. Restructuring municipal solid waste management and governance in Hong Kong: Options and prospects. Waste Management & Research38(9), pp.1047-1063.

Mak, B.K., Cheung, L.T. and Hui, D.L., 2017. Community participation in the decision-making process for sustainable tourism development in rural areas of Hong Kong, China. Sustainability9(10), p.1695.

Verweij, P., Janssen, S., Braat, L., van Eupen, M., Soba, M.P., Winograd, M., de Winter, W. and Cormont, A., 2016. QUICKScan as a quick and participatory methodology for problem identification and scoping in policy processes. Environmental Science & Policy66, pp.47-61.

Wan, C., Shen, G.Q. and Choi, S., 2018. Differential public support for waste management policy: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Cleaner Production175, pp.477-488.

Wong, Y.L. and Lo, C.H., 2021, July. Human Factors in Waste Reduction Design: A Case Study on Using Garbage Bags Under Waste Charging Policy in Hong Kong. In International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (pp. 971-981). Springer, Cham.

Zhong, Y., 2016. The Changing Policy-Making Process in Greater China: Case Research from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Edited by Bennis Wai Yip So and Yuang-kuang Kao. Pacific Affairs89(3), pp.624-625.


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