User-pays rubbish scheme is fair

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, 12:00am

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I read that Friends of the Earth proposed HK1.30 as the cost of disposing of a rubbish bag under a government waste-charging scheme, amounting to HK$40 a month for a typical family (SCMP, March 23). But is this fair?

It is not fair if the levy is too high for poor families. The government will also be making extra money.

On the other hand, if the levy is too low, say, 50 cents per bag, there will not be enough incentive for citizens to reduce waste and recycle useful materials.

It is clear that the levy of HK$1.30 per rubbish bag is set according to the polluter-pays principle. Citizens are just paying for the cost of disposing of their own waste, while the government makes no extra money or spends extra money to deal with the waste.

Rebecca Sze, SKH Tsang Shiu Tim Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Rebecca. It's a shame that people are unwilling to do more to protect the Earth without either the threat of a fee or the promise of a reward, but that's the sad truth.

Many housing estates have recycling bins, and there seem to be more and more on the streets, so we really have no excuse for not sorting our waste. There are some things, like food waste, that cannot be recycled. But there is plenty that can - and must - be recycled.

The proposed levy may not seem like much, but for some families, it could be a huge burden. Another solution perhaps is a levy based on household income.

The great thing about the levy is that it will hopefully encourage people to be more thoughtful before they throw things away. While the financial punishment may be hard on some families - and let's hope the government considers that carefully - we could all afford to be more careful when we create waste.

Karly, Deputy Editor