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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 11:18pm
NewsHong Kong
ENVIRONMENT

Recycling plan may add HK$1 on a bottle of beer

Wine and spirits could also be hit under government scheme to help deal with Hong Kong's annual 70,000 tonnes of glass waste

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 9:52am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 83%
  • No: 10%
  • OK for wine, not beer: 7%
15 Jan 2013
  • Yes
  • No
  • OK for wine, not beer
Total number of votes recorded: 669

A HK$1 levy may be charged on bottles of beer, wine and spirits to help pay the recycling costs.

The scheme is being considered by environment officials and could be put up for public consultation as early as next month. It follows the 50 cent plastic bag levy introduced in 2009.

Recyclers welcomed the idea, which could help pay for recycling the 70,000 tonnes of waste glass generated in Hong Kong every year. However, the food and beverage trade said it would be unfair to single out glass, which accounted for only 3 per cent of total waste.

Bottled soft drinks or sauce bottles would escape the levy.

The money collected would subsidise local glass recyclers, who might be paid according to the volume of glass they treated.

Terence Wong Chee-ho, director of Laputa, one of two local factories making bricks with glass waste, welcomed the proposal. "It would help us to recover the transportation costs," said Wong, whose bricks, made in its Tuen Mun plant, are used mainly by the government.

But Michael Glover, chairman of the Hong Kong Food, Drink and Grocery Association, which represents major beer makers and wine importers and has been in talks with officials on the issue for more than two years, said any option considered should "treat people fairly".

"It is not a bottle or a can issue. It is a total waste issue … any system needs to be equitably shared against all users," he said.

Glover also said the levy would not encourage people to separate glass from other waste.

A spokesman for listed Dynasty Fine Wines said the company supported the scheme and hoped it could be done in a similar way to the plastic bag levy. It did not think sales would be affected.

Keith Wong Wing-kit, a wine dealer, said the levy would have a far greater impact on beer.

"Each beer costs about HK$10 and they are more popular than wines. It would add up to lots of money if an importer brings in 100 million bottles a year," he said.

Wong also said it would be highly unlikely that glass beer bottles would be replaced with plastic ones.

"Glass is superior as it doesn't allow light in and it won't have any reaction with the wine," he said, adding that some low-end wines might switch to plastic bottles.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said recycling glass bottles was a priority and a consultation paper was being prepared.

The recycling rate of waste glass containers was just 5 per cent in 2011.

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, environmental affairs manager at Friends of the Earth, said the levy should cover all beverages and even plastic bottles to maximise the waste reduction benefits.

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This article is now closed to comments

CatInAFlap
oops, p@#!$@ again...they could spend their windfall in the bars charging the levy. hey presto, more beer drunk, more bottles recycled and lots more drunk ****s careering around the place.
CatInAFlap
How about paying drinkers to return their beers bottles to a central bank. Then they could spend their windfall in the bars where the $q
quahbeeloon
i was afraid. then realized **** it, i'll start drinking canned beer permanently.
alfredt
It should be made a deposit, not just a levy (which implies it is non-refundable) so that people will have the incentive to return the glass bottles for their money back. Currently people are charged $1/bottle as deposit for certain brands of milk sold in glass bottles, and the deposit can be refunded when these milk bottles are returned to a convenient store. Also, disposed plastic bottles bring more harm to the environment than glass bottles as glass is made of sand and can be decomposed while plastic cannot. The scheme should be extended to all plastic and aluminium containers.
HK-Explorer
You have to start somewhere and if they start with Wine / Beer bottles over time and with success it will expand. Beer companies and wine companies should just say ok. People will still buy their goods and they can turn around and say they are helping the environment. Best for them to eb a leader than a follower.
dw_
1. This is different to a plastic bag levy, which the public can choose NOT to pay by bringing their own bags.
2. Why did this reporter not interview anyone from the beer distribution industry whom this has more of an impact, but instead interviewed people from fine wines companies who obviously do not care about the extra dollar charge which is less than 1% of a bottle of wine? This levy will place a 10%+ increase in cost of beers.
I am totally FOR recycling, but this one sided reporting just shows lazy reporting. It's headlines make no sense if he's going to ask irrelevant people questions.
3. Will this levy actually all go to the people who work so hard to recycle glass? Who's there to make sure? I love how the article reports that "the money collected will go to SUBSIDISE local glass recyclers, who MIGHT BE PAID according to the volume of glass recycled."
WELL. Where else is the money going to go? To the people who argue there are a lot of admin fees involved in the scheme, it's just more money going into people's pockets who are not actually doing the work. Our govt's coffers are well-lined, and if they want to put their heart into a proper recycling scheme for glass/paper/plastic, they would have done so already.
mrgoodkat
Yes, please levy recycling charges for all products. Cans, glass, plastic cups etc. Only that way can we get the people to recycle more.
rpasea
Simple solution: make recycling mandatory.

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