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Transcript of remarks by Secretary for the Environment (with photos)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, on public consultation on a producer responsibility scheme for glass beverage bottles this afternoon (February 7):

Reporter: Can you explain the scheme in English, please?

Secretary for the Environment: This PRS (producer responsibility scheme) would be very useful for recycling most of the waste glass from landfill for beneficial use. In Hong Kong, currently the waste glass occupies about 2 to 3 per cent of the landfill spaces. But based on overseas experience, if we can have a PRS on a mandatory basis, we can recover up to 70 per cent or even more of the waste glass. We would like to have a kind of complete circular economy so that the waste glass can be put into useful use. The concept is that everyone involved should play their role. Firstly, the suppliers should pay a fee so that it can support the recycling industry. Secondly, the retailers should provide information to the public so that people can understand where to put the waste glass bottles for recycling. The Government would engage a contractor to manage all these waste collection processes so that all the waste glass can be put into use. The whole consultation process would take three months, so we look forward to having support from the public.

Reporter: How can you ensure the fees are being borne by the suppliers but not the consumers?

Secretary for the Environment: I think the fee would eventually somehow be shared through the market forces. But we have to find an effective and simple way to collect the fee. We think that the wholesalers or suppliers would be a kind of concentrated group - currently there are about 1 700, based on our preliminary search. This would be a kind of confined group that can help effectively collect the cost. So the cost would be fairly shared through the market forces.

Reporter: Why does it take so long for the Government to come out with this project while other countries have been doing it for decades?

Secretary for the Environment: I think we have to prioritise different initiatives. Although the glass bottles occupy only about 2 to 3 per cent of our landfilled waste and it is not a great amount, increasingly people are prepared to help in this kind of recycling process. So we think that while we are having the earlier initiatives, say the waste electrical and electronic equipment, now I think it is a good timing for us to extend it to the waste glass bottles.

Reporter: Mr Wong, what are some of the difficulties in recycling glass bottles right now and why you are so confident that the recycling rate can be increased to 70 per cent?

Secretary for the Environment: I think currently the biggest problem is that glass, as compared to others, is heavier in terms of weight. The transportation cost would be higher than other kinds of waste. So we need to somehow create a system that can generate revenue to support this kind of (recycling) process. That's why we have this kind of levy system to complete the process.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, February 7, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:28


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