Polluter Pays: Gov’t proposes waste disposal charge in efforts to curb rubbish crisis

The government yesterday unveiled a three-year plan to charge citizens for waste disposal, in efforts to curb Hong Kong’s rate of waste production. That’s right. We’re going to drop cash to dispose of our trash.

The charging scheme — modelled on existing, successful levies in Taipei and Seoul — would see Hongkongers paying HKD0.11 for every litre of rubbish produced. For an average household, disposing of 1.1 to 1.5 litres of waste per day, the privilege of dumping their garbage would cost roughly HKD33 to HKD51 per month.

Citizens will be charged two different ways: by bag, and by weight. For the former, residences and shops that use government refuse collection services will have to buy green rubbish bags, ranging from 3 to 100 litres in capacity, and HKD0.30 to HKD11 in price. For the latter, buildings which employ private refuse collection services to dispose of waste directly at landfills will be charged HKD365 to HKD369 for every tonne of rubbish disposed.

According to the Environment Bureau, the average citizen produces 1.39 kilograms of waste per day, and the amount of municipal solid waste has increased by 80 percent in the last 30 years, “far outpacing” the corresponding population growth of 34 percent. Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-shing said he hoped the plan would help Hong Kong reduce waste by 40 percent by 2022, a target set by the bureau in 2014.

The bill will be introduced at LegCo in the first half of this year. After its passage, the public will have 12 to 18 months to prepare for the scheme, before it’s rolled out (date TBD, but late 2019 at the earliest).

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