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.