Marvin Chung, 17 Wah Yan College Electronic waste, or e-waste, has become a serious problem. Computers and electrical appliances might mean convenience, but they also mean headaches when they become old or break down. Some think the solution is simple: throw it away or give them to recyclers. But is it really that simple? After you throw it away, e-waste goes to landfills. Electronic components contain heavy metals like cadmium and lead. When they leak into soil or water, they pose a huge threat to the environment and people's health. And large appliances like refrigerators take up a lot of space in landfills. Many people send their e-waste to recycling companies. But the profits are slim, and recycling companies often lose money. By adding an e-waste recycling fee to the cost of appliances, the users pay for disposal. This would help the recycling industry survive and save our planet from a flood of e-waste. Alvin Yuen, 18 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Several questions will arise if the government chooses to impose a tax on appliances. What are the intended effects of this tax, and will it be effective? The aim of the tax is not to discourage buyers, but instead to 'pay of the cost of appliances' disposal'. One problem that arises is how does one determine the cost of disposal. Does the cost of disposal include recycling? Or does the cost just mean the fee that is required for the e-waste to be transferred and stripped down safely? There is no accurate way of determining the cost of disposal. Secondly, by adding a tax to IT goods such as computers and other appliances, we would be placing additional burdens on middle-class consumers and lower-income families. While a tax might seem a good idea at the beginning, it would widen the gap between low-income and high-income families. The middle class already forms most of Hong Kong's tax base. There is no need to add to their burden. I don't think a low-income student would welcome a tax like this if he were to buy a computer. In today's society, electronic goods are necessities that most people cannot do without. Is the tax really sufficient to pay for treating e-waste? Also, if consumers were led to believe that they are already paying for the cost of disposal of electronic goods, they might pay less attention to other behaviour that might affect the environment. Applying a tax like this might lead people to believe they have 'paid' the full environmental cost.