Hong Kong is thinking about charging a deposit fee in an effort to reduce the number of plastic bottles and encourage recycling, RTHK reports.
Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said that under the proposal, customers would be able to bring empty bottles to reverse-vending machines and get their deposit fees back.
The idea is part of a government study that also looks at the feasibility of making companies responsible for the recycling costs of their products. It’s unclear, though, when authorities will decide how to proceed.
The group the Green Earth estimates that Hong Kong disposes of 132 tons of plastic bottles every day. The city recycled just 7.2 percent of its plastic waste in 2016, according to the Environmental Protection Department.
“We welcome the government’s proposal,” Edwin Lau, the executive director of the Green Earth told Coconuts HK. “These actions are really needed to close the gap.”
He pointed to higher recycling rates in other countries with recycling incentives as evidence that they could work in Hong Kong, too.
The government has been looking at new ways to handle recyclables since 2017. The city traditionally sent its waste to the mainland. However, the mainland’s recent restrictions on waste have meant that plastic and paper are piling up in landfills.
Meanwhile, environmentally-conscious residents have long bemoaned Hong Kong’s love affair with plastic. One Facebook user, for example, snapped a photo of individually-wrapped apples at Wellcome in Kennedy Town in April, and urged customers to ask the company to change its practices.