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Public consultation begins on new producer responsibility scheme for glass beverage bottles (with photos)

     The Environment Bureau released a consultation document today (February 7) on the implementation of a mandatory producer responsibility scheme (PRS) for glass beverage bottles. The three-month public consultation will end on May 6.

     The consultation document proposes a government-led approach under which the Government on the one hand would appoint a contractor to collect and recycle glass beverage bottles, and on the other hand would collect recycling fees from suppliers of glass-bottled beverages to cover PRS operation costs in line with the "polluter pays" principle. The document also proposes that beverage retailers should provide recycling information and glass recyclers should be licensed.

     The Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, said that glass beverage bottles are resources which should be properly re-utilised. The outlets for recycled glass bottles have been limited in the past. Thanks to the fruitful results of research, glass beverage bottles, after suitable processing, can now be turned into different kinds of construction materials. This provides a circular economy under which there is no further need to dump waste glass beverage bottles at landfills.

     Overseas experience shows that implementing a mandatory PRS for glass beverage bottles can help boost the recycling rate effectively. It is expected that 70 per cent local waste glass beverage bottles, i.e. over 100 tonnes per day, can be recovered after the implementation of the scheme. It would alleviate pressure on landfills and is crucial in tackling the imminent waste problem.

     At present, about 9 000 tonnes of municipal solid waste, including 150 tonnes (about 2 per cent) of waste glass beverage bottles, are disposed of at Hong Kong landfills each day. Since 2008, the Government has been promoting green procurement to encourage wider use of construction materials containing recycled glass (such as eco-pavers) in public works projects. At the same time, the Government has been promoting voluntary glass recycling schemes through relevant trades and the Environment and Conservation Fund to enhance public awareness of glass recycling. At present, 13 tonnes of waste glass beverage bottles are collected through different schemes every day, covering 8.5 per cent of waste glass beverage bottles generated.

     To take forward the Chief Executive's election manifesto, the Government has accorded priority to "reduction first" in the waste management policy, which includes strengthening voluntary recycling by the trades and progressive implementation of mandatory PRSs. With regard to glass beverage bottles, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is supporting five major voluntary recycling programmes including:

* Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector organised by the Hong Kong Hotels Association;
* Glass Bottle Recycling Campaign organised by the Hong Chi Association;
* Green Glass Green organised by the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association;
* Pilot Programme on Source Separation of Glass Bottles co-organised by the Hong Kong Housing Authority and the EPD on public housing estates; and
* Glorious Glasses in Shatin organised by the Shatin Inhabitants Association.

     The consultation document on the new PRS for glass beverage bottles is available on the EPD webpage ( Members of the public can also obtain the document at the EPD and District Offices. Submission of views by email, post or fax to the EPD during the consultation period is welcome.

Ends/Thursday, February 7, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:15


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