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Transcript of remarks by SEN
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, on the implementation arrangements for municipal solid waste (MSW) charging at a media session at Central Government Offices, Tamar, today (March 20):

Reporter: How difficult will it be to enforce the law because there are so many alleyways and a lot of rural areas and people will just dump their rubbish. Will there be some sort of exemption, for example, the CSSA (Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme) families?

Secretary for the Environment: In the past few years, we have been working closely with the people living in the rural areas, including Heung Yee Kuk, to see how we can have proper implementation of the MSW charging including enforcement in the rural areas. In short, we are in close liaison with the concerned stakeholders so that we can have an effective mechanism on one hand to promote waste reduction at source; at the same time, to balance the environmental hygiene concerns. As I said earlier, we will step up our resources and manpower so that we can strengthen our enforcement not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas.

     Your second question is about how to have the mechanism to promote waste reduction on one hand; at the same time to care about those needy people, in particular those receiving subsidies under the social welfare schemes. Based on the recommendation by the SDC (Council for Sustainable Development), we would have a mechanism to address these issues. But the details would be disclosed later because at this stage, we are talking about the average waste charging and also to estimate what would be the approximate waste volume in a typical household. After understanding these numbers, then we can decide an appropriate scheme to address those in relation to the needy people.

Reporter: If law enforcement agencies find out the garbage is not wrapped in the designated garbage bag at the waste collection points, will the management of the housing estate bear the cost or the residents? If the trash is found outside the (refuse) collection points, who will bear the legal responsibilities?

Secretary for the Environment: I think you are asking details about the enforcement. For instance, an FEHD (Food and Environmental Hygiene Department) refuse collection vehicle came to an (residential) estate while collecting the dumped garbage, and those garbage are supposed to be wrapped in the designated garbage bags. If the colleagues found that some of those waste are not properly wrapped in the designated garbage bags, then the colleagues can refuse to accept those garbage on the spot. At the same time, they can also consider whether they would issue the fixed penalty ticket. The (residential) estate would receive the penalty as a whole. So there are different situations, but the point is that enforcement would trigger those polluters to stop from any malpractice. For instance, if we reject those garbage collections, then the whole (residential) estate or the management would suffer, so they would behave better.

Reporter: Can you explain the arrangement for the three-year transition period, whether some buildings will have the option of using different "per weight" charging schemes? Since the legislation will only come into place in 2019, and there will be a three-year transition, how confident are you that the city can meet its waste target for 2022?

Secretary for the Environment: For some of those (residential) estates, they may not be really ready to go for the "per bag" charging mechanism, then they may opt for the "per bin" arrangement. We expect that should be the minority because the "per bin" charging would be higher than the "per bag" charging mechanism. We would also have a step-by-step increment of the "per bin" charging within those three years. So the overall objective is to encourage the "per bag" arrangement rather than the "per bin" arrangement. As we said, based on the SDC's recommendation, the transition period would be within three years, so that would set a very clear picture for those (residential) estates.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Monday, March 20, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:29
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