Waste-charge scheme will not work

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 2:46am

In her letter ("Charging scheme provides incentive for waste separation", August 27) undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai made it clear she is ignoring the concerns of Hong Kong people and intends to go ahead with the waste-charging scheme.

She and her associates will force more bad public policy upon us after another "consultation" that somehow always supports the government position.

No one asked me. If they did I would tell them that this is more bad public policy, just like the failed plastic bag levy.

As you reported in July 2011, that levy resulted in the "amount of plastic we have used in bags" increasing by 27 per cent and garbage bag use going up over 60 per cent, while conventional plastic shopping bag use was down about 70 per cent. Reusable bags have 30 to 50 times more plastic than conventional ones, and don't break down so easily in the landfill.

Retailers say the dollar amount of individual transactions is down, suggesting people are shopping more frequently and buying less each time now compared to their behaviour before the shopping bag levy came in.

That means people are making more trips to shop, with these trips contributing more to air pollution from public and private transport.

K. Y. Leung ("Scheme will lead to illegal dumping", August 20) has it right: the waste-charging scheme will lead to more illegal dumping. I lived in one community that tried this kind of scheme and the police spent a lot of time trying to catch people fly-tipping in town while the sheriff did the same in the neighbouring countryside. There was rubbish along every remote roadway. We'll have even more of that in Hong Kong, too, if the waste-charge scheme goes ahead.

Maybe it makes sense for business operations, but it does not make sense for private households.

At my house our pets largely consume excess food waste. Discarded rubbish is almost totally product packaging, over which we have little control.

If Loh wants to solve the problem sensibly, leave households alone and address commercial waste. Perhaps manufacturers could be encouraged, rather than taxed, to create more environmentally friendly packaging, as is done in some countries in Europe.

Don't punish innocent people by making an already greatly expensive living environment even more expensive with another tax that will not reduce household waste. It's just bad public policy.

Bob Carson, Sha Tin