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EPD responds to media enquiries about producer responsibility scheme on waste electrical and electronic equipment
     In response to media enquiries about a petition at the Central Government Offices today (June 11) on their views about waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) gave the following reply:       

     The Government launched the public consultation on the producer responsibility scheme on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WPRS) in 2010 and has since been closely engaging the Legislative Council (LegCo) and the associated stakeholders. It has been an open and transparent process with extensive deliberation amongst the relevant trades and prominent coverage in the mass media. We are grateful for the concerted efforts by different sectors, which reflects the spirit of shared eco-responsibility.       

     At present, a LegCo subcommittee has largely completed the scrutiny of two pieces of subsidiary legislation introduced by the Government in April. This represents a major step forward in our preparatory work. The new licensing control for the disposal of e-waste has not yet commenced operation. However, in facilitation of the trades and in order to prepare for the implementation of the scheme later, the EPD will start receiving applications for the waste disposal licences on the storage, treatment, reprocessing or recycling of e-waste from June 19. Certain exclusion applies under the licensing regime. For instance, disposal of e-waste (not being chemical waste) on land or in premises with an area of not more than 100 square metres will be eligible for exclusion. 

     Having taken into account the views of LegCo and some of the trade representatives, the Government will examine whether to defer the commencement date to end of next year, so as to provide sufficient time for the trade to comply with the licence application requirements, before the commencement of the new licensing regime for the disposal of e-waste. The import/export permit control and landfill disposal ban for e-waste will be implemented by end of this year as originally planned.

     Since the majority of regulated electrical equipment is currently exported after being recovered, the existing operations of only a small number of recyclers will be affected under the new control. The EPD has liaised with these recyclers individually to offer assistance on necessary licence applications. The EPD will strive to maintain a level-playing field to facilitate competition. Amongst other things, the disposal licensing requirements will apply indiscriminately to all applicants and there is no question of the Government favouring any applicant including the operator of the government facility.

     There are other suggestions for the Government to cease the enforcement of the chemical waste disposal legislation in relation to hazardous electronic waste particularly waste printed circuit board (PCB) so as to facilitate the trades to operate PCB trading outside the statutory regulatory framework for chemical waste. To this end, the EPD emphasises that chemical waste is hazardous by nature and will pollute the environment. It may also cause hazards to practitioners in the trade and the public. Hence, the Government must in accordance with the law enforce stringent control of chemical waste including PCB.

     The EPD will endeavour to continue with the necessary preparatory work so that the WPRS may be implemented by phases in this and the next year. On the upstream measures, the Government will organise pilot trials on the statutory removal service in conjunction with sellers of regulated electrical equipment. Subject to the progress of the preparatory work, the related legislation is expected to come into effect as soon as practicable.
Ends/Sunday, June 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:50
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