LettersHow Hong Kong can get the most out of its waste-charging scheme
- Readers discuss the pros and cons of the scheme requiring residents to pay for the trash they generate that was recently approved by the city’s lawmakers
What does the waste-charging scheme really mean for Hong Kong? Can we achieve the intended objectives? While green groups have welcomed the scheme, they have long expressed concerns over the lack of community recycling facilities.
Once the waste-charging scheme comes into effect, people will be driven by financial incentives to recycle more. However, this could become an unbearable burden on the city’s impaired and inefficient recycling infrastructure.
The next step is to think about how to upscale good recycling infrastructure. There is a need for new business models to ensure long-term financial sustainability of these recycling hubs.
The secretary for the environment said low-income households can receive a subsidy of HK$10 (US$1.30) each month to purchase the required plastic bags for disposing waste. However, they will still incur extra costs. As they contribute the least to our waste and carbon footprint, low-income groups should not be punished for environmental damage, especially for producing waste that cannot be avoided.
In addition, there is a lack of upstream measures, such as regulation to prevent overpackaging. The government must keep refining measures to minimise the impact of this policy on marginalised communities.
Passing the waste-charging bill is undoubtedly a big win for Hong Kong’s waste management policy. Continuous work has to be done to ensure it delivers the objectives of waste reduction and recycling promotion without jeopardising the interests of the less well-off.
Natalie Chung Sum Yue, MPhil candidate in environmental change and management, University of Oxford
Waste scheme not fit for purpose
Collection of rubbish in bags of different sizes will not reduce the accumulated waste as unscrupulous people will divert their garbage to street bins provided by the government. The gross total wastage will remain the same, but the government will have extra revenue.
Moreover, with the days of filibustering being over, I do not understand why it should take 18 months to start implementing the waste-charging system.
Nalini Daswani, Tsim Sha Tsui