Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau has formally proposed a monetary charge of 11 cents per litre for the disposal of municipal solid waste. The charges will come into effect as early as the second half of 2019.
The bureau said on Monday that it will introduce designated rubbish bags of nine different sizes, which Hongkongers will have to purchase in order to dispose of waste. The bags will be sold at some 4,000 locations across Hong Kong, including supermarkets, convenience stores and even vending machines.
The solid waste charge proposal will submitted as a motion to be approved at the Legislative Council later this year. After the legislation is passed, there will be a 12-to-18-month preparatory period before the charges come into effect.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officials will then no longer accept rubbish that is not collected in the designated bags. For the first six months of the policy, officials will only warn offenders. After this grace period, offenders will receive a fixed penalty of HK$1,500.
The proposed charges will be fixed at 11 cents per litre for the first three years of the policy.
“If a three-member household uses a 15-litre designated garbage bag… it will have to pay about HK$1.7 per day,” said Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing.
For premises and buildings that hire private staff to directly dispose of rubbish in landfills, the Environment Bureau has proposed a charge of HK$365 per tonne.
Oversized items that cannot be inserted into rubbish bags will be charged at a uniform rate of HK$11 per piece.
Wong said that the bureau plans to expand its staff in order to educate the public and conduct enforcement action.
‘Dump less, save more’
Wong said that the high levels of waste generation in Hong Kong necessitated the implementation of a charge on waste: “In the past 30 years, municipal solid waste in Hong Kong increased by over 80 per cent, far outpacing the population growth of 34 per cent in the same period.”
“In setting the charging level, the government has considered different factors including the effectiveness of waste reduction, public acceptability and affordability,” he said.
“We believe that these regulations can greatly encourage the culture of reducing waste in Hong Kong,” he added. “Dump less, save more… is the principle behind the policy.”
Wong also said that the proposed waste charge in Hong Kong was between that of Taipei and that of Seoul. The proposal was based on public engagement exercises conducted by the Council for Sustainable Development in 2014.
Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui said he agreed with the Environment Bureau’s proposal, and hoped that it could be implemented on schedule.
However, he said that the government should clarify queries from the public before charging the fees, including whether the fees would remain the same for all Hongkongers regardless of their income and taxation, and whether there would be any supporting measures to prevent illegal dumping.