No more delay for waste charging!
| Policy Research and Advocacy Team, Friends of the Earth (HK)
The Environment and
Ecology Bureau recently reported to the Environmental Affairs Committee on the
progress of the municipal waste charging scheme. The government proposed
postponing its rollout to April next year, citing consideration of the large
volume of waste produced and the lack of manpower in the cleaning sector during
Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays.
Friends of the Earth (HK) reiterates our hope to see the municipal
waste charging be implemented as soon as possible to tackle Hong Kong’s
long-standing waste issue. If the scheme is to be delayed, the government must
strengthen the preliminary preparations and supporting measures to ensure there
is no further postponement.
Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the government to seriously
consider the following:
Municipal solid waste charging was mentioned as early as 2005 in Hong Kong. Our neighbouring cities like Seoul and Taipei have already proven that it is effective in promoting waste reduction. Furthermore, public consultations and surveys have shown Hong Kong residents are ready for the scheme. The government must not drag its heels on municipal solid waste charging, so that the city can start reducing waste and recycling resources.
- Ensuring sufficient
collection and recycling infrastructure for waste separation: Public demand for
recycling channels will increase with the successful implementation of the
waste charging scheme. The government must build sufficient infrastructure to
encourage citizens to properly sort and recycle waste. The government should
also provide economic support to help upgrade the recycling industry, promote
circular economy, and facilitate the sustainable development of recycling
Spots (Image source: EPD)
- Expediting the expansion
of domestic food waste collection: Over 30% of waste disposed in
landfills in Hong Kong is food waste, and household food waste accounts for
about 70% of the total disposal volume. The government should expedite the
expansion of pilot scheme on food waste collection in domestic sector and set
up intermediate collection points across the 18 districts to encourage food
waste separation and collection, while increasing the capacity for organic
Composition of municipal food waste disposed of at landfills in 2020 and 2021 (Image source: EPD)
- Allocating resource into outreach with different stakeholders: Given the complexity of the scheme, the government should allocate more resources in publicity and public education to deepen citizens’ understanding of the scheme. At the same time, the government should maintain good communication with the owners’ corporations, property management companies, cleaning contractors, and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth rollout.
Municipal solid waste charging modes (Image source: EPD)
Setting up systems to deter fly-tipping: Fly-tipping is expected to worsen in the short term after the rollout of the waste charging scheme. The government should not only rely on technology to monitor blackspots, but also make reference to the whistleblower system used in Taiwan and South Korea to encourage community-wide monitoring and penalise offenders.