ENVIRONMENT

Families could pay HK$74 a month to dump waste, says consultation paper

Consultation considers fees to cut waste and encourage recycling as city drowns in garbage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 4:06am

A family of three could face a waste-disposal charge of HK$30 to HK$74 a month under proposals put forward for public consultation yesterday.

The Council for Sustainable Development launched the four-month exercise to tackle a mounting rubbish crisis and shrinking landfills.

The consultation asks the public at what level charges should be set to encourage people to cut waste and recycle.

It comes after lawmakers blocked a plan to extend three landfills and the government faces challenges building a HK$15 billion incinerator.

A consultation has found most people support a charge.

The proposed charges are based on the 50 cents per kg used in Taipei. Households might be offered a waiver if they cut their waste below a certain benchmark.

Various charging models are proposed. One is to make households buy pre-paid rubbish bags that would be disposed of at a designated place and time.

Another model is to collect fees from buildings by weight or volume. Property management firms would collect the waste and hand the money to the government. The fee would be shared by occupants.

For buildings that lack management, people might be required to dump waste in pre-paid bags or weigh and pay for waste at refuse collection points.

Professor Nora Tam Fung-yee, the council's waste charging support group convenor, said Hong Kong could not copy cities like Taipei or Seoul.

"We need to find a model that suits the Hong Kong way and characteristics," she said. No single model would satisfy everyone and she expected people might opt for different models to suit their needs.

Council chairman Bernard Chan said: "How much do we have to charge? I don't know. Our primary aim is to change people's behaviour and we don't have a pre-set stance."

He hoped the details would be ready by the end of next year as environment chief Wong Kam-sing has vowed to introduce charging by 2016.

Chan said the city's waste had grown 80 per cent in three decades, while the population had increased just 36 per cent.