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Monday, March 20, 2017, 22:37

HK govt set to impose waste disposal levy

HK govt set to impose waste disposal levy
This picture taken on March 6, 2013 shows a landfill in the new territories of Hong Kong as the Chinese city of Shenzhen looms in the background. (Philippe Lopez / AFP)

Hong Kong – Hong Kong is set to take a concrete step in combating excessive municipal solid waste by introducing a levy on waste disposal in the second half of 2019, the city’s environment head announced on Monday.

Households would have to buy designated bags for garbage. The bags would come in nine different volumes, ranging from 3 liters to 100 liters, with a proposed charge of 11 HK cents per liter.

Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, Hong Kong

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said the Environment Bureau (ENB) will propose the levy scheme to the Legislative Council.

The proposed scheme comprised two methods of charging for solid waste – “charged by designated garbage bags” and “charged by weight”.

Wong noted that the charging schemes would help achieve a waste-disposal reduction target of 40 percent by 2022, as set out in the waste plan: “Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022”.

Wong said households would have to buy designated bags for garbage. The bags would come in nine different volumes, ranging from 3 liters to 100 liters, with a proposed charge of 11 HK cents per liter.

Rubbish that could not fit in a 100-liter bag would have to bear an “oversize” label before disposal. Oversize labels would cost HK$11 each.

Supermarkets, convenience stores and post offices would sell the bags.

READ MORE: HK awaits first organic waste treatment facility

Commercial and industrial building users who hired private waste collectors to dispose of waste directly to landfills or refuse transfer stations would be charged based on weight disposed.

Charges would range from HK$365 per ton to HK$395 per ton.

The proposal will be submitted to LegCo in the first half of this year. The ENB estimated the charging would be implemented in the second half of 2019 at the earliest after a 12- to 18-month preparatory period.

Municipal solid waste in Hong Kong has soared more than 80 percent in the past 30 years. The daily solid waste disposal rate in 2015 was 1.39 kilogram, which Wong said was much higher than that in Hong Kong’s neighboring cities. The city saw a record-low recycling rate of only 48 percent.

Earlier in 2015, the government also implemented a levy on plastic bags to curb the soaring volume of waste going to the three landfills.

The government will later announce details on subsidies for impoverished families receiving the monthly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA).

Frontline staff from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department would reject waste not properly wrapped in designated garbage bags or not affixed with oversized waste labels. Enforcement staff would conduct spot checks at refuse collection vehicles and refuse collection points.

READ MORE: HK becoming a greener city

Fixed penalty notices at HK$1,500 each would be issued to offenders intercepted on the spot, and prosecution by way of summons would also be undertaken. First conviction was liable to a fine of up to HK$25,000 and imprisonment of six months.

Enforcement action would be also be taken at the waste reception chambers or other parts of buildings used for waste collection.

Before the levy comes into effect the government would gradually reduce the number of rubbish bins on the street by 40 percent to avoid illegal dumping. It would also increase the recycling containers to 4,000.

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