HK On A Charge For Zero Waste

With charges for disposing municipal solid waste (MSW) due to be implemented from April 1 next year, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is hopeful that members of the public can be encouraged to dump less and save money as they contribute towards saving the planet.


‘Polluter pays’

There are two modes of charging for waste disposal under the new rules, one of which involves charges for bags and labels, the other a “gate fee” based on the weight of the waste collected.


The first mode applies to MSW from most residential buildings, commercial and industrial buildings, village houses, street-level shops, and institutional premises.


Residents of such premises will be required to purchase and use designated bags in which to place their waste for disposal. Meanwhile, large items that are too big for the designated bags must be affixed with a designated label.


The bags come in nine sizes, with capacity ranging from three to 100 litres, and are priced at between $0.3 and $11. The labels have a fixed price of $11 each.


EPD Environmental Protection Officer (Waste Reduction & Community Recycling) Lawrence Kan said a family of three to four people will be likely to use one 10-litre or 15-litre bag every day, meaning their monthly MSW charge will be about $30 to $50.


However, if waste is collected by private waste collectors using refuse collection vehicles without rear compactors, and is then disposed of at waste disposal facilities, such as landfills and refuse transfer stations, the second charging mode, that of a “gate fee”, will be applied.


Calculated according to weight, such charges will be mainly applicable to waste disposed of by commercial and industrial premises, as well as some waste collected from residential buildings that is either oversized or irregular in shape, such as chairs and bed frames.


Going green

To support the implementation of MSW charging, the EPD’s Green Outreach team has been visiting housing estates, residential buildings and recycling collection points across the city since mid-August.


Besides providing information about the new charging rules, they have used the visits to promote waste reduction and recycling, encouraging communities to “dump less and save more.”


EPD Assistant Environmental Protection Officer (Waste Collection & Charging) Kaman Wong described MSW charging as an effective policy tool to drive enterprises and members of the public to adopt eco-friendly practices based on the “polluter pays” principle.


She added that MSW charging is essential to facilitating the sustainable development of recycling and related industries in the city, and creating more green job opportunities.


Community participation

The EPD holds regular events to promote green living in the community. For example, workshops were recently held, over the course of five consecutive Sundays in October and November, at Kwun Tong Recycling Station.


To enhance waste reduction and recycling support at community level, the department has also launched a recycling network, GREEN@COMMUNITY. Covering all 18 districts in Hong Kong, GREEN@COMMUNITY can now collect at least nine common types of recyclables.


Mr Kan also shared a warm reminder to communities on the importance of clean recycling: “To prevent contamination, citizens should keep recyclables clean and dried. In addition, as rubber and silicone are not plastic, items such as rubber slippers and silicone kitchenware cannot be put into plastic recycling bins.”


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