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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 11:13am
NewsHong Kong

Pay-as-you-throw rubbish scheme could cost Hong Kong households HK$44 a month

Committee considering pay-as-you-throw charging scheme favours price of 15 to 39 cents per kg. Green groups believe it should be more

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 4:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 4:51pm

A typical household should pay a maximum of HK$44 per month to dispose of waste when pay-as-you-throw charging is introduced, a Council for Sustainable Development subcommittee has recommended.

The subcommittee also favoured introducing solid waste charges on a blanket basis for both residents and businesses, but wanted charges to be "consistent". And there should be no exemptions to the charge, even for the needy.

The government-appointed council was tasked with gauging public views and coming up with a model for waste charging, which green activists see as the best way to encourage recycling and cut the level of waste going to the city's bursting landfills. Charging is to be introduced by 2016 at the earliest.

The recommendations were made after a behind-closed-doors meeting of the council's strategy group and its support group on charging yesterday. The views must be endorsed by the full council before it reports to the Environment Bureau.

Members in attendance said the general view was that charges should be between HK$30 and HK$44 per month for a three-person household. Based on an average of 1.27kg of waste produced per person, as established in a 2011 study, that would mean charging 25 to 39 cents per kg.

The range was supported by more than half of the 5,000 people who filled in questionnaires during a recent consultation.

About 19 per cent wanted charges of between HK$45 and HK$59 per month. Eight per cent chose HK$60 to HK$74 while 4.6 per cent favoured a figure between 10 cents and HK$29.

Green activists say a charge too low will be ineffective. But council chairman Bernard Chan has previously expressed concern that too high a charge will lead to fly-tipping.

Members rejected the idea of exemptions for underprivileged groups, saying charities and NGOs could help them.

For businesses, a level of HK$500 per 1,000kg was supported by most members.

Support group member Hahn Chu Hon-keung, an environmentalist, questioned whether the suggested level was enough.

"Is it really enough for us to realise the 2022 waste reduction target?" Chu said, referring to the government's goal of reducing per capita waste generation by 40 per cent in the next eight years.

He said the as-yet unanswered question of how charging would operate would also have an effect. The council has been accused of favouring charging by weight based on buildings, rather than individual households, though council chiefs insist no decision been taken.

Fellow member Simon Wong Ka-wo, of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, favoured a charge closer to the lower end of the range. "A bump-free introduction is very important for the charging to succeed, and a lower level could make this happen," he said.

Chan has argued that the most appropriate approach would be to have stiff penalties for fly-tipping but a reasonable waste charge.


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This article is now closed to comments

what we need is source separation laws to separate recyclables
then we need a Govt funded collection scheme for those recyclables
then we need a Govt funded Green Bin system for food waste
only then do we want to instigate waste charging for what is left
it is ridiculous that even if you separate your waste voluntarily you will still be charged for it and the recycled separated things will be dumped or burned
of course if we had the source separation laws & recycling collection & Green bin system there would be no need for an incinerator...
Separate the garbage at source. Free for waste that can be recycled. Wastes that cannot be recycled to be charged on a per standard sized garbage bag basis. More bags, more fees. Less bags, less fees.
Simply continuing to inculcate the erroneous idea that the household is the 'source' of the rubbish and not going after those who profit on the excess packaging that is foisted on the helpless households will do nothing to actually eliminate the increasing amount of wastes. For example, in the supermarket, I can't buy salad greens without having a bulky plastic container coming with it. As between my and themr, the supermarket is the 'source' and not the purchaser. Beyond the supermarket, there;s still another entity who is responsible for producing the packaging and they are the true 'source.' Put a surcharge on all that plastic coming in to Hong Kong and see how fast the amount of unnecessary packaging drops. But, that of course would mean requiring businesses to pay for the costs of cleaning up the mess they produced and that goes against the 'free market' which says the end user is the 'source.'
We are facing a dilemma. If the charge is based on weight of rubbish produced by the whole building,Individual has no incentive to cut down the rubbish he produces. In fact, one may even think that , since he has to pay now, he is eligible to produce more rubbish or it is "unfair" to him as others may produce more rubbish than him. On the other hand, if the charge is based on weight of rubbish produced by individual, it is no easy task to find a way to accomplish that. May be we can charge by asking individual to buy "government rubbish bag", but how can you ban people from using other rubbish bags ?
It seems mission impossible. Everyone knows that education is the best solution but it may need decades of years. Yes, Japan can, HK cannot.
Hong Kong desperately needs more recycling bins - desperately.
This isn't going to work. It's going to cause too much trouble, and it will lead to fly tipping no matter what the price.
Collecting cost is still considered high when no one in the city has the urge or incentive to separate the 'valuables' out from the trash. Now, by 2016 when the charging scheme starts rolling out, the recycle industry may find collecting already sorted or separated valuable materials much more abundant than in the past. Business becomes more viable and it will start attracting more investment.
More proof, if any were needed, of the total lack of imagination and incompetence of Environment Bureau. This puts the cart before the horse. The public will not support a punitive scheme which will only encourage widespread cheating and increased fly tipping.
Far better solutions would follow the example of progressive municipalities abroad which impose separation at source for food waste and recyclables, i.e. a Govt collection scheme for recyclables and a Green Bin system for food waste.
The recycle bins we have have now are a joke and a con. The contents are not recycled at all, but all are tipped into landfills.
Who will the waste charge benefit? Wait for the Govt. to name crony business interests who are lining up for the bonanza while the public get s c r e w e d over - again.
Unacceptable, lest there's a corresponding cut from the Rates. With $3T in foreign reserve HKSAR wants to charge for trash, no way.
see what can happen when the EU Environment Commissioner actually does something positive, unlike here
"commitment of the Commission to phase out landfilling and burning of recyclable waste by 2020"
"Jumping from recycling rates of 20% to 80% in a short period of time is perfectly possible when there is the political will and the implication of the citizens. This is what the experience from Capannori, first Zero Waste town in Europe, and the province of Gipuzkoa proved with concrete practical zero waste experiences"



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