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EPD conducts technical trial to prepare for implementation of municipal solid waste charging (with photos)

     To prepare for the implementation of municipal solid waste (MSW) charging, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is conducting a technical trial to retrofit three refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) with an automated bin-counting system for charging on the basis of "by volume of waste disposed of by building". The three-month trial commenced on July 1 and is making good progress.

     In December last year, the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC) set out its recommendations on how to implement quantity-based MSW charging, including proposing a transitional period of not more than three years for residential buildings using the FEHD's refuse collection fleet to adopt an interim charging mechanism on the basis of "by volume of waste disposed of by the building", i.e. by counting the number of refuse collection bins used for disposal of MSW by the building concerned. The SDC also recommended charging on the basis of "by household using pre-paid designated garbage bags" as the ultimate goal, under which each household must use pre-paid designated garbage bags. The use of a transitional period could enable residents to reach a consensus on the final implementation details and system of charging.

     An EPD spokesman said, "The objective of this trial is to explore how to develop a complementary system for tackling operational and technical issues arising from charging, based on the volume of waste disposed of by the building, so as to take forward the SDC's recommendation of arranging a transitional period for MSW charging. Residents of the buildings concerned do not directly participate in the trial."

     The spokesman added that it was revealed from previous trials that reliance on manual operation (such as measuring and recording) would encounter a number of challenges, for instance, the additional time required and human error in recording and taking the measurements of each waste bin. Such operational problems must be resolved when the statutory charging scheme is implemented.

     The spokesman said, "For this purpose, the EPD conducted the technical trial in collaboration with relevant departments. The FEHD selected three RCVs on which the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department installed the automated system to count and record the number of bin tippings, as the charging basis, during waste collection without manual operation. The retrofitted RCVs are running on three collection routes in Eastern, Sham Shui Po and Kwai Tsing Districts, covering 24 refuse collection points.

     "The automated system, when implemented, shall be operational in conjunction with other supporting systems to facilitate users' registration, billing arrangements and so forth. Upon completion of the trial at end-September, the EPD will review the results of technical trial with the relevant departments and consider other factors before deciding on the way forward."

     The SDC recommended that the Government should implement the charging mechanism on the basis of "by household using pre-paid designated garbage bags" as the ultimate goal. For residential buildings of which waste disposal takes place through the FEHD's 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 a consensus on the implementation details. The Government will 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 other recommendations set out by the SDC, please refer to the Report on the Public Engagement Process on Municipal Solid Waste Charging 2014. (

     On the other hand, to support the Government to implement the MSW charging mechanism as recommended by the SDC, the Environment and Conservation Fund Committee has earmarked $50 million to subsidise community involvement projects. This is to update various waste producers (including households from residential buildings, tenants of commercial/industrial establishments, other institutions or community service units) on the new initiative and prepare them for behavioural change before the implementation of MSW charging. Application of the funding scheme will be opened on October 9. The Secretariat of the Environment and Conservation Fund and representatives from the EPD will jointly organise briefing sessions for interested parties and organisations. Relevant details will be announced in due course.

Ends/Sunday, September 27, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:00


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