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Council for Sustainable Development submits report on municipal solid waste charging to Government

The following is issued on behalf of the Council for Sustainable Development:

     The Council for Sustainable Development (SDC) today (December 16) submitted its report on the public engagement process on municipal solid waste (MSW) charging to the Government.

     "The public engagement process adopts a bottom-up and stakeholder-led approach to engage stakeholders from different sectors of the community for in-depth discussions and deliberations on the complex issues involved in implementing MSW charging in Hong Kong, with a view to fostering consensus in the community. The SDC is aware of the general public's support for implementing quantity-based MSW charging, having regard to the views received during the public engagement process. On this basis, the SDC has put forward recommendations on general policy directions that capitalise on economic incentives to encourage waste reduction at source and promote a green lifestyle for sustainable waste management," said the SDC Chairman, Mr Bernard Chan.

     "In the process of deliberating on and formulating its recommendations, the SDC strives to balance views from different sectors of the community and affirms four principles on which the waste charging scheme should be premised: it should be legally feasible and able to be enforced effectively without causing unreasonable annoyance to the public; the charge should be directly related to the quantity of waste disposed of; charging mechanisms should be built upon the prevailing effective waste collection and handling systems to ensure environmental hygiene; and charging should be implemented in both the domestic and commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors in one go for shared responsibility," added Mr Chan.

     The SDC's report covers the four key issues identified during the public engagement process, namely charging mechanism, coverage of charging scheme, charging level and recycling.

     The SDC's major recommendations are as follows:

Charging mechanism:
* the ultimate goal is to implement charging by household using pre-paid designated garbage bags. For residential buildings whose waste disposal takes place through the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's (FEHD) refuse collection fleet, a transitional period of a maximum of three years is recommended to allow charging based on the volume of waste disposed of by the buildings, as residents in some buildings may need time to reach consensus on implementation details. The Government should review the effectiveness of the charging scheme after the first year of implementation. During the transitional period, the Government should encourage residents to migrate to charging by household using pre-paid designated garbage bags;

* for waste disposal at FEHD's refuse collection points (RCPs) (mainly residential buildings without property management companies, rural areas, and C&I organisations disposing of a limited amount of waste), residents must use pre-paid designated garbage bags for disposal at RCPs; and

* for waste disposal through private waste collectors (C&I organisations and a small number of residential estates), charging should be based on the weight of waste disposed of at refuse transfer stations or landfills, which is known as the "gate fee".

Coverage of charging scheme:
MSW charging should be implemented in all sectors (domestic and C&I sectors) in one go.

Charging level:
The SDC considers that the level should be effective to encourage waste reduction but not too excessive:
* $400-499 per tonne for C&I waste; and
* $30-44 per household per month (based on a three-person household) for domestic waste.

Additional supporting measures should be introduced in tandem. These include: enhance education and publicity; expedite the construction of organic waste treatment facilities; increase support to the recycling industry; further extend the Producer Responsibility Schemes; and step up monitoring and law enforcement.

     About 3 300 stakeholders and members of the public from different sectors participated in 63 public engagement events (including five regional forums) during the four-month public involvement stage from September 2013 to January 2014. The Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong was engaged as an Independent Analysis and Reporting Agency (IRA) to analyse about 5 300 view collection forms and 300 written submissions from individuals and organisations. The SDC also organised public education and publicity activities with the support of schools, non-government organisations and other associations.

     The SDC report and the IRA report are available on the SDC's public engagement website ( for public viewing.

Ends/Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:30


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