• Fri
  • Aug 1, 2014
  • Updated: 3:02pm
NewsHong Kong

Environment watchdog weighing up trial charges for waste disposal

Three models would be tested during the year-long scheme involving 12 housing estates

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 5:00am

The environment watchdog is considering a 12-month trial scheme to test the viability of charging for waste disposal, and assess whether such charges help to reduce waste.

The scheme, which is expected to be launched in the middle of next year, will involve at least 12 residential housing estates with different social and economic characteristics.

A variety of models of quantity-based waste charges will be tested. Two buildings from each estate will take part, one of each being for control purposes.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department confirmed it was considering the experiment, but no details have been finalised.

News of the proposed trial came as environment minister Wong Kam-sing yesterday urged the Council for Sustainable Development to submit a report on waste charges by the summer of next year.

That would be months earlier than the timescale suggested by council chairman Bernard Chan on Wednesday, when he launched a four-month consultation on the issue of charges.

"We cannot delay on the issue any more. We have waited for more than 10 years," said Wong.

A source familiar with the proposed trial told the Post that three charging models will be tested.

Two models involve charging individual buildings by volume or weight of waste. Under the volume model, waste will be measured by the number of 660-litre rubbish bins used. The charge for each bin will be HK$660.

Under the weight model, rubbish will be weighed and charged at HK$500 per tonne.

The third model requires households to buy garbage bags from the building's management firm. The proceeds would be kept by the firm and the owners' incorporation could decide if the money should be refunded later.

Meanwhile, Chan yesterday said Hong Kong should not follow examples from overseas and introduce a system for reporting fly-tipping, as such a system would not fit in with the local culture.

"A reporting system does not fit the Hong Kong culture and it will create more social conflict. But there might be a need to install surveillance cameras in certain lanes to prevent fly-tipping," he said on a radio programme yesterday.

According to a survey conducted by the World Green Organisation in mid-September, 65 per cent of about 1,000 people polled supported charging households for waste disposal by volume.

About 60 per cent said they were willing to pay HK$30 a month and another 25 per cent said they would be willing to shell out HK$50 a month.



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This article is now closed to comments

"...whether such charges help to reduce waste." This should be rephrased to 'reduce landfill waste from households.' If the food, which is a major component of waste is not purchased and brought into the home, it will remain in the restaurants and supermarkets and eventually end up as waste from their end unless donating excess food, before spoilage, is made mandatory. If it comes into Hong Kong, a significant portion will end up as waste, either thrown in landfills or flushed down toilets. This seems to be a game of redirecting attention from the real issue of too much food and plastics being imported into Hong Kong by major corporations and onto the least culpable portion of the society, i.e., individual who are forced to by pre-sized portions of many food items.
Excuse me. Was this lost in translation or can he be serious? "But there might be a need to install surveillance cameras in certain lanes to prevent fly-tipping,"
My own views for HK:
1. reduce potential waste i.e. packaging. But does the government have the guts to tackle the packagers?
2. recycle. Residents should be REWARDED in some way for recycling and not penalised for not. Free colour coded biodegradable bags could be provided for different materials; glass, paper/cardboard, metals etc.
3. Food waste should, where possible, be composted.
4. there should be NO CHARGE for waste disposal otherwise waste will get disposed of illegally i.e. dumped down hillsides in the middle of the night (as government contractors do now when they think nobody is watching). I would also object to subsidising other's behaviour through a flat rate charge.
4. incinerate what is left BUT use a process which produces beneficial bi-products or non-harmful emissions and not clouds of ugly and toxic smoke. And most certainly NOT on Shek Kwu Chau
John Adams
Although I just voted in favor of being willing paying up to $74 / month to dispose of my rubbish, I must say that your proposals make a lot more sense.
Yes ! REWARD those who segregate rubbish .
I live close by to a tin can re-cycling company. I assume the owner is paying a commercial rent but he obviously must be making money .
I also see old people pushing big carts of discarded boxes : they too must be earning money, and well-deservedly.
Carrot always works better than sticks.


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