No Time to Waste: Hong Kong to Implement a Waste Charging Bill
Hong Kong, 26 August 2021 — After nearly two decades of delay, Hong Kong lawmakers voted in favour of the Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018 (“the Bill”), which will see citizens paying $0.11 for every liter produced. This marks a key milestone in the city’s waste management plan.
The waste charging bill involves quantity-based waste charging, which provides a strong foundation to reduce waste production at the source and motivates behavioural changes among citizens, a precursor to eliminating wastage and pollution.
After failing to meet its waste reduction targets set in 2012, today’s Bill passage will serve as a key driver for Waste Blueprint 2035, announced earlier this year.
The Bill is expected to charge an average three-member household approximately $1-2/day. Earlier in 2021, Civic Exchange released a public opinion survey which found that two-third of respondents supported the “polluter-pays” principle. Today’s decision in LegCo is a positive response to strong citizen support of the Bill.
Public opinion survey result released by Civic Exchange in May 2021
“Today’s result is a leap forward for Hong Kong’s waste management and reflects society-wide readiness to support the polluter-pays principle and reducing waste at source,” said Lawrence Iu, Climate Change & Partnerships Lead at Civic Exchange. “However, as landfills are filling up quickly, we cannot afford more delays. Civic Exchange continues to urge the Government to enforce the Bill by the first quarter of 2023, while ensuring community recycling facilities and collection network are ready for the rising public demand.”
Civic Exchange suggests the following government actions:
- Lead and foster holistic development of Hong Kong’s circular economy for resource-intensive sectors, including plastic, textiles, and construction—to extend the lifecycle of products. The government could consider providing funding, strengthening infrastructure, and enhancing public-private partnerships.
- Set new sector-specific waste reduction targets for waste-intensive sectors, including food and beverage, retail, and construction. Government-led target-setting can drive industry actions, allowing corporates to review their operational gaps and initiate an industry-focused, well-structured, and practical waste reduction plan to complement the city’s waste management plan.
- Assess the pricing system regularly (i.e., every 2 years) to ensure MSW charges continue to be effective in reducing Hong Kong’s waste generation. Regular assessment guarantees the pricing system is ambitious enough to encourage people to actively practice the 3 Rs principle—reuse, reduce, recycle—in the long run.
The passage of the Bill is a reminder that waste disposal comes at a cost. Future waste charging will create significant financial incentives to drive behavioural changes.
It is believed that MSW charging will create a driving force to push the commercial sector actively bears social responsibilities; in particular, by reducing package materials and offering sustainable product packaging options.
Civic Exchange will continue to work with environmental groups to provide evidence-based research and strengthen collaboration on waste issues, in order to expand public understanding and awareness. For more information, please refer to our latest research report on MSW Charging here: https://civic-exchange.org/report/public-opinion-survey-on-the-waste-disposal-charging-for-municipal-solid-waste-amendment-bill-2018/.
Please contact Fiona Lau, Civic Exchange Programme Manager at [email protected] or 5963 7397.