Soon you will have to pay more than one dollar a day to dispose of household rubbish

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Is this the end of the line for the familiar black plastic garbage bag?      Photo: waste360.com
Every homeowner will soon have to pay more than a dollar a day to get rid of garbage. Anyone running a business or an institution such as a school will be hit with much higher costs. The Government is going to issue rubbish bags in nine sizes from 33 cents for the smallest (three litres) to $10.10 for the largest (100 litres). The idea is to force the entire city to change its behaviour. Taipei and Seoul found similar schemes caused a 30 per cent drop in garbage disposal.

In November a draft bill was tabled in Legco. Now we are in what the Government calls the consultation period. Implementation will occur late next year, if the Government can keep up its political will. There is a lot of opposition (see below).

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Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing showing off the new garbage bags       Photo: HK Government

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said the municipal waste charging scheme is central to the Government’s waste reduction strategy. In 2016 the territory was sending 10,345 tonnes of solid waste to the landfills daily. The “polluter pays” system is intended to force people to cut waste at source. In 2016 we were producing 1.41 kilograms per person per day, a lot more than most cities.  Secretary Wong said he estimates the new system will cost households of three people from $1.10 to 1.70 daily.

Government approved rubbish bags will be available at 4000 points across the city from supermarkets, 7-Elevens, petrol stations, post offices and so on. Eighty per cent of garbage produced by residences, village houses, estates, shops, restaurants, industries and institutions will be required to go into the Government bags. This will apply to rubbish collected by FEHD refuse vehicles or those of contractors and to waste disposed at collection centres. The remaining 20 per cent will be charged by weight at the “gate”. Failure to comply may lead to a $1500 fine, repeated serious offending to heavy fines or jail.  Oversized waste must have a label costing 11 cents fixed on it.

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The new government approved bags         Photo: on.cc

Free collection of food waste by the Government from all sources is to be introduced. Plastic too will be collected free from non-commercial and non-industrial sources.

Opposition mainly centres around the difficulty of enforcing this scheme — the uniforms of FEHD will be in charge — and the danger of widespread fly-tipping.  Green groups are in favour and have applauded the Government initiative, confirmed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her recent policy address.

How the scheme will operate is laid out in detail at www.epd.gov.hk


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