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LCQ20: Producer responsibility scheme for waste electrical and electronic equipment

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung Kin-kee and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Legislative Council meeting today (October 19):


     The Chief Executive proposed in his 2009-2010 Policy Address that following the launch of the plastic bags levy scheme, the Government would consult the public on the introduction of a producer responsibility scheme (PRS) for electrical and electronic equipment at the end of 2009.  Subsequently, the authorities formally conducted a three-month public consultation on the introduction of a mandatory PRS on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)(the Scheme) in January 2010, which mainly covers the proposal that all regulated WEEE (including television sets, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners and some computer products) should be banned from disposal as ordinary trash, and it sets out the responsibilities borne by various stakeholders such as consumers, producers and importers, etc. for the collection, treatment and disposal of regulated WEEE.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the reasons why the Government has neither drawn conclusions from the public views collected, nor confirmed the details of and timetable for implementing the Scheme as well as the final legislative proposal, although the aforesaid public consultation was completed long ago; of the latest progress in implementing the Scheme; and

(b) of the views preliminarily adopted by the authorities on the aspects to be covered by the Scheme, charging methods, cost sharing, ways to treat WEEE, import and export controls, and assistance to be provided to recyclers in recovering and treating the wastes concerned; whether it will consider including more electrical and electronic equipment (e.g. mobile phones) in the regulatory ambit; when the authorities expect to submit the legislative proposal to this Council for scrutiny; and of the anticipated timetable for implementing the whole Scheme?



     We have been adopting a multi-pronged approach, with the promotion of waste reduction and recycling and the development of modern and high-standard treatment facilities as a key direction, for taking forward our waste management strategy.  To further promote waste reduction, we will expedite legislative proposals for the mandatory producer responsibility schemes (PRS).  The Chief Executive has also stated in his 2011-12 Policy Address that the Government would introduce a PRS for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)(the Scheme) as soon as practicable so as to minimise the impact of WEEE on the environment.  My reply to the two parts of the question is as follows:

(a) We received more than 2 700 submissions during the public consultation on the Scheme.  In addition, we have collected the views of the public and stakeholders through different channels, including 38 briefings, seminars, focus group meetings and public forums, etc.  Through these channels we have reached out to more than 60 organisations and stakeholder groups, including manufacturers, importers, brand agents, distributors, retailers, recyclers, environmental groups, district councils, social and welfare organisations, professional and academic institutions and other advisory bodies, etc.  Since the Scheme involves different aspects including coverage, flow management, proper treatment and sharing of costs, it is essential to conduct in-depth analysis and draw reference from international experiences, as well as making reference to the feedback received during the consultation period in order to formulate proposals for the implementation of various major aspects of the Scheme.  We plan to report our findings to the Panel on Environmental Affairs of this Council next month and consult it on the way forward of the Scheme.

(b) In general, members of the public and the relevant trades are supportive of the mainstream proposals under the Scheme as set out in the Consultation Document.  The majority of the members of the public and stakeholders supported adopting the scope of coverage as set out in the Consultation Document, namely television sets, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners and computer products including desktop computers, laptops, printers, scanners and monitors.  On the other hand, the majority of the views received during the consultation period agreed to introduce measures, including import and export permit controls, to better manage the movement of WEEE, and to ensure that locally generated WEEE is properly treated in the territory.  Views received were more diverse on the charging methods, the sharing of costs, and the methods of recovery and treatment of WEEE.  Individual trades in particular have expressed concern over the impact of the respective proposals on their operation and costs.

     Based on the views received during the consultation period and with reference made to international experience and the local situation, we have drawn up major principles to take forward the Scheme.  Proposals on major aspects such as charging methods, the implementation of effective complementary measures and the recovery and treatment of local WEEE have been drawn up.  We will discuss and confirm these major principles with this Council before proceeding with the drafting of the legislation.  In the meantime, we will further engage with the trades and stakeholders on the implementation details in an in-depth manner, and aim to submit a bill to this Council at the earliest opportunity in the 2012-13 session.

Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:09


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