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Hong Kong environmental issues

Manufacturers and importers could be charged HK$1 per one-litre bottle under Hong Kong’s new scheme to reduce waste glass

Plan could be implemented as early as mid-2019, though fee has not been confirmed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 10:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 4:48pm

Hong Kong is likely to charge glass bottle manufacturers and importers HK$1 (US$0.13) for every one-litre bottle in a long-awaited “producer pays” scheme aimed at cutting down the 90,000 tonnes of glass containers disposed of annually in the city.

The producer responsibility scheme, for which legislation was passed in 2016, could be implemented as soon as mid-2019, with the government aiming to submit subsidiary legislation for scrutiny by lawmakers by the fourth quarter of this year, according to a Legislative Council paper submitted on Thursday.

The plan, which will be discussed by Legco’s environmental affairs panel next week, aims to promote recycling, as most of the glass containers manufactured and used in Hong Kong currently end up in landfills.

The city threw away 90,000 tonnes of glass containers in 2016, or 243 tonnes a day, accounting for about 2.3 per cent of solid waste produced daily, according to data from the Environmental Protection Department.

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Under the proposed scheme, registered manufacturers and importers will have to report to the government within 28 days after each quarter on the number of distributed and consumed glass containers to determine how much they have to pay.

The government has tentatively proposed a levy of HK$1 per one-litre bottle, but the exact amount is still under review, the paper said.

Companies that have existing recycling and reusing programmes will be able to apply for an exemption. Suppliers would have to reach a waste reduction rate of 80 per cent or higher, meaning that each container was reused five times or more, to have the fee waived.

It is unclear if manufacturers will pass on the extra costs to consumers.

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A producer responsibility scheme requires manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to share the responsibility for the collection, recycling, treatment and disposal of products to reduce environmental impact at the post-consumer stage.

Such legislation is in place for plastic bags, while a scheme for electronic waste will go into effect next month.

The department is also studying a plan for plastic bottles.