ENVIRONMENT

Environment minister urges early submission of waste-disposal charge report

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 9:35pm

The environment minister has urged the Council for Sustainable Development to submit its report on a waste-disposal charge by next summer so that he can start to prepare for its implementation.

Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, said the city could not delay charging for waste disposal, which was first raised more than a decade ago.

“If the consultation can stay focused on the issue, they might be able to come up with a report on the views collected earlier, perhaps before or after summer,” he said.

If the consultation can stay focused on the issue, they might be able to come up with a report on the views collected earlier, perhaps before or after summer
Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment

On Wednesday, Bernard Chan, chairman of the council, said the report could only be filed in the fourth quarter of next year, after the consultation had ended in late January.

Wong said his bureau would make sure all relevant policy and measures about waste reduction and recycling would be ready before charging was rolled out. An enhanced food-waste recycling plan was being drafted, he said.

The minister said the bureau had no stance on the charging level and models at this stage, but he said there was no need to spend the charges collected on designated purposes such as supporting recycling.

“The investment to be made by the government on waste infrastructure would be far more than the money collected. So, there was no need to put this money into a dedicated fund,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by the World Green Organisation in mid-September, 65 per cent of about 1,000 people polled supported charging by household by volume, as it was fairer and more conducive to waste reduction than other models. About 60 per cent said they were willing to pay HK$30 per month while another 25 per cent were willing to pay HK$50 per month.

But Chan said it would be very difficult to implement that model particularly in large housing estates. “It is a daunting task in estates with blocks of 30 to 40 storeys. The lifts will be jammed every night if people have to bring their trash out at a designated time and place,” he said.

Apart from household waste, Chan also said waste from commercial and business sectors would be charged. He said these sectors were now just required to pay waste transport costs and it was free for them to dump waste in landfills.