Q&A on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Charging as passed by the Legislative Council and Related Arrangements

⦁ The Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018 (the Bill) has been passed by the Legislative Council (LegCo) on 26 August 2021. We will put in place a preparatory period of 18 months as a basic arrangement, so as to provide appropriate time for the Government, various stakeholders and members of the public to prepare for the implementation of MSW charging.

⦁ During the preparatory period, we will pay close attention to various aspects of the community, in particular the progress of economic recovery after the pandemic, the level of preparedness among different stakeholders, etc. We could extend the preparatory period as needed.

⦁ As regards the actual commencement dates of the legislations to effect MSW charging, we will report progress of our preparatory work to the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs at opportune juncture and obtain its support before actual implementation.

⦁ On the basis of majority support revealed in the public consultation related to MSW charging completed in 2012, the Government affirmed the direction of introducing a quantity-based MSW charging system. Based on the recommendations put forward by the Council for Sustainable Development subsequent to a public engagement process completed in 2014, the proposed implementation arrangements for MSW charging were formulated.

⦁ We have invited opinions from the public and various sectors on this policy and relevant implementation arrangements in order to build a consensus.

⦁ The applicable charging mode would depend on the waste collection arrangements of the relevant premises.

⦁ There are two charging modes for MSW charging, i.e. (i) “charging by designated garbage bags”, and (ii) “charging by weight-based gate-fee”.

⦁ In general, “charging by designated garbage bags” is applicable to most residential buildings, village houses, street-level shops and institutional premises, etc. Members of the public in the relevant premises are required to wrap their waste properly in designated garbage bag or affix a designated label to it before disposing of it at the waste reception points in the common areas of relevant premises (for example rear staircases and refuse rooms) as well as the refuse collection points (RCPs) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) (including bin sites).

⦁ “Charging by weight” is mainly applicable to oversized waste or waste which is irregular in shape generated from commercial and industrial premises. When such waste is disposed of at the refuse transfer stations and landfills, a gate-fee will be charged based on its weight.

⦁ For details, please refer to the section of “How to charge?”.

⦁ During the preparatory period, the Government will step up publicity and education so that property management companies (PMCs) and relevant stakeholders can better understand the charging arrangements and get prepared.

⦁ After the implementation of MSW charging, members of the public are required to wrap their waste properly in designated garbage bag or affix a designated label to it before disposing of it at the waste reception points in the common areas of relevant premises (for examples rear staircases and refuse rooms), as well as the RCPs of FEHD (including bin sites).

⦁ The arrangements for disposal of waste onto different kinds of refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) are shown as below:

  FEHD and its contractors Private waste collectors
Any kinds of RCVs RCVs with rear compactors RCVs without rear compactors
(such as grab lorries, demountable trucks and tippers)
To wrap waste in a “designated garbage bag” or affix with a “designated label” Required Required Not required*

* Waste collected by RCVs without rear compactors will be charged by weight through gate-fee and thus is not required to be either wrapped in a designated garbage bag or affixed with designated label.

⦁ In brief, non-compliant waste means waste that is neither wrapped in a designated garbage bag nor affixed with designated label under “charging by designated garbage bag”.

⦁ For example, when a designated garbage bag is used to dispose of waste, , the waste concerned may be deemed as non-compliant waste if the bag is not tightly fastened, or if the waste is allowed to pierce through the bag.

⦁ Besides, any oversized waste (for example large furniture items such as dining table, bookshelf or mattress) that cannot be properly wrapped in a designated garbage bag will be considered a non-compliant waste if it is not affixed with designated label when being disposed of.

⦁ We will establish a sales network consisting of a few thousands sales points including supermarkets, convenience stores, post offices, etc.

⦁ We will also consider setting up vending machines and selling “designated garbage bags” and “designated labels” at online platforms. “Designated garbage bags” and “designated labels” will be available for purchase at an appropriate time before the implementation of MSW charging.

⦁ “Designated garbage bag” and “designated label” will only be sold at the authorized sales points. Members of the public should purchase “designated garbage bags” and “designated labels” at authorized sales points, online platforms or vending machines.

⦁ The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will publish notice in the Gazette to stipulate the specifications for “designated garbage bags” and “designated labels”, including their sizes, shapes, designs and materials for easy reference by the public on their authenticity. Each “designated garbage bag” and “designated label” comes with anti-counterfeit features. For details, please refer to the section of “How to charge?”.

⦁ For disposal of oversized waste which cannot be properly wrapped into a “designated garbage bag”, if it is collected by the RCVs of FEHD (including its contractors); or collected by private waste collectors using RCVs with rear compactors, it should be affixed with a “designated label”. The price of “designated labels” is set at $11 each. “Designated labels” can be purchased at authorised sales points.

⦁ If the oversized waste is collected by private waste collectors without rear compactors , it is not required to be affixed with a “designated label”, and it will be charged by weight through gate-fee. For details, please refer to “How to charge?”.

⦁ MSW charging is premised on quantity-based and the “polluter-pays” principles. Our policy intent is that it is primarily the responsibility of individual households to bear the charges for “designated garbage bag” and “designated label”, so as to drive behavioral changes for achieving waste reduction.

⦁ Therefore, individual households have to wrap their waste properly in designated garbage bag or affix a designated label to it before disposing of it at the waste reception points of the common areas of relevant premises.

⦁ Depending on the need of individual premises, PMCs may separately use transparent garbage bags to collect waste wrapped with designated garbage bag disposed of by individual households. This would ensure that all the waste inside are wrapped with “designated garbage bags” and avoid double charging.

⦁ For small litter containers placed in the public areas of buildings (such as lobbies) for disposal of waste that is of small quantity and small size (such as used tissue paper), individuals are not required to use “designated garbage bag” as these small litter bins are not designed for individuals to dispose of daily household waste.

⦁ Nevertheless, cleansing workers of relevant buildings should wrap the waste collected from these small litter containers in “designated garbage bag” before delivering them to FEHD staff or putting them onto RCVs.

⦁ Offenders will be subject to a fixed penalty of $1,500.

⦁ Prosecution by way of summons may also be brought in serious cases or against repeated offenders. The penalties are as follows:
(a) on the first conviction — a fine at level 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for 6 months; and
(b) on a subsequent conviction — a fine at level 5 ($50,000) and imprisonment for 6 months.

⦁ We will put in place a six-month phasing-in period after the commencement of MSW charging. During this period, we will mainly issue warnings to non-compliant cases but enforcement actions will still be taken for offences of serious nature and magnitude, e.g. if the offender repeatedly contravenes the law despite warnings given.

⦁ After the phasing-in period, enforcement actions will be taken on a risk-based approach targeting black spots.

⦁ To reduce expenditure on MSW charging, the primary way is to reduce waste at source.

⦁ Besides, recycling and reusing recyclables through different channels can also reduce expenditure on MSW charging. For example, members of public can make good use of EPD’s community recycling network, which comprises 9 Recycling Stations, as well as Recycling Stores and Recycling Spots with services covering all 18 districts across the territory, and deliver the sorted recyclables to these recycling points and practice recycling proactively in our daily lives. We plan to set up 10 more Recycling Stores by the end of this year to further expand the community recycling network and facilitate clean recycling.

⦁ For latest information on waste reduction and recycling, please visit Waste Reduction Website.

⦁ For recycling bins set up at public places (e.g. on pavements), EPD would ensure that the contractors would collect and handle the recyclables properly or pass them to appropriate recyclers for handling.

⦁ Disposal of recyclables at landfills or refuse transfer stations will be subject to charging under the MSW charging in future. Therefore, recyclers will actively handle and recycle the recyclables collected properly to reduce expenditure on MSW charging.

⦁ During the scrutiny of the Bill, the mainstream opinion of the Bills Committee was that the Government should distribute free designated garbage bags to residential households during the early stage of implementation of MSW charging so as to help them to get used to the charging arrangements. The Government would liaise with the LegCo Panel on Envrionmental Affairs to set up a Working Group to further discuss in detail about the appropriate distribution approach, execution details and other preparatory issues.

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