Hong Kong may impose waste disposal levy by second half of 2019 at the earliest, environment minister says

If plan is approved, households and businesses will need to pay for rubbish they dispose of using pre-paid bags or landfill ‘gate fee’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 9:34pm

A long-delayed plan to charge fees for the disposal of municipal solid waste could be in force by the second half of 2019 at the earliest, the city’s environment chief said.

If the legislation is approved, households and businesses will have to pay for the amount of rubbish they throw out, either by using pre-paid rubbish bags or via a landfill “gate fee” based on the weight of the trash.

“A preparatory period of 12 to 18 months would be put in place after the passage of the legislation,” Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said yesterday. “It is expected waste charging can be implemented by the second half of 2019 at the earliest.”

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A bill for implementing it will be introduced to the legislature within the first half of this year.

The average Hongkonger dumped 1.39kg of municipal solid waste per day into the city’srefuse heaps in 2015, a 3 per cent rise from the year before and the highest level in a decade.

The success of waste levies in places such as Taipei and South Korea showed they could “effectively bring about behavioural change to achieve waste reduction”, said Wong who set a target in 2013 to cut municipal solid waste per capita by 40 per cent by 2022.

Two charging plans will be adopted as recommended by government advisers in 2014.

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The “by bag” method will apply to premises such as residential estates, which use refuse collection services provided by the government. The cost depends on the pre-paid bag used, with different sizes available.

Meanwhile, the “by weight” arrangement will apply to mainly commercial or industrial premises that hire private collectors to directly dispose of waste at landfills or refuse transfer stations. Charging will be based on the weight of waste.