POLLUTION cleanup charges should be introduced cautiously so industry will not be tempted to avoid payment by dumping waste illegally on the street or down the drain, the head of a business and environment group warned yesterday. The Government plans to introduce disposal charges for chemical waste, solid waste and sewage, probably within a year. George Cardona, the chairman of the Private Sector Committee on the Environment, said his group was not opposed in principle to charging polluters for disposal, but he was worried about the level of charges. ''If they introduce the charges too high, too quickly, there could be an incentive to tip the waste somewhere where it's not allowed,'' he said. Mr Cardona said charges pitched at the right level could act as an incentive to companies to reduce the amount of waste they produce, for instance by recycling. He suggested the charges start off low in order to get them in place as quickly as possible, after which there could be debate on fees. Mr Cardona was speaking at the opening of Business and Environment Week which was aimed at showing industry how it could improve its operations and markets by adopting environmental initiatives. Governor Chris Patten gave the opening address and said Government alone should not be responsible for the cleanup. While the Government set the standards through legislation, and provided information and technical assistance, industry had to chip in, he said. ''The private sector can help come up with answers to environmental problems,'' Mr Patten said. Business and Environment Week is organised by the Centre for Environmental Technology backed by the private sector committee whose 22-member companies include Swire, Jardine Pacific, Hutchison Whampoa, Wharf Holdings and the South China Morning Post.