The environment watchdog is considering a trial run for a domestic waste charging scheme in housing estates, officials say. The aim is to devise a scheme that is simple and effective in reducing waste. The Environmental Protection Department has also proposed a mandatory refuse recovery room on every floor of a new building to encourage waste separation at source. The proposal, which has been submitted to the Buildings Department, would require an amendment to the law. A department spokesman said the proposed trial would gather information on the type of charging scheme most suitable. A variable-rate fee scheme depending on the volume of waste disposed of by a household would work best, the department said. In Taipei, charges are levied on rubbish bags sold to households. The dumping of non-recoverable waste in non-designated bags is forbidden. 'Our aim is to develop a municipal solid waste charging scheme that is effective in encouraging waste reduction, yet simple and easy for people to comply with. We also want to minimise the impact on the existing waste collection system,' the spokesman said. The scheme will be tested first in estates that have achieved good results in separating waste at source. Households will be given plastic bags to separate organic and recyclable waste. 'This could help assess the potential of waste streamlining and the sort of bags that should be used,' said Lawrence Wong Tung-kong, principal environmental protection officer. More than 220 housing estates, comprising 160 private complexes, 28 government quarters and 35 public housing estates, have joined the department-sponsored scheme to separate waste at the source, which was launched early last year. With recycling bins on each floor of the buildings, the average recycling rate has surged 59 per cent to 11.3kg per month per household, while the total volume of rubbish disposed of fell 3 per cent. The scheme was seen as vital in propping up the low domestic recycling rate which stood at 14 per cent in 2004, and as a necessary step before introducing the waste charging scheme. The department hoped the number of estates would increase to 470 this year.