Q&A on the Amendment Bill of MSW Charging

A1: 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 been inviting opinions from the public and various sectors on this policy and relevant implementation arrangements in order to build a consensus. On 14 November 2018, the relevant Amendment Bill has been introduced into the Legislative Council for scrutiny.

A2: The applicable charging mode depends on the waste collection arrangement of the premises. Waste collected by the refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) of FEHD or its contractors; or collected by private waste collectors using RCVs with rear compactors; or waste disposed of at the FEHD Refuse Collection Points (RCPs) would be charged through "designated garbage bags". Waste collected by private waste collectors using waste vehicles without rear compactors would be charged based on the weight of waste disposed of at landfills or refuse transfer stations (i.e. gate-fee). For details, please refer to How to pay.

The Government will step up publicity and education before and after the implementation of the charging scheme so that property management companies (PMCs) and stakeholders can better understand the charging arrangements and get prepared for their implementation.

A3: We plan to set up over 4000 sales points (e.g. supermarkets, convenience stores, post offices, personal care products stores, gas stations, etc.), to be supplemented by vending machines, to facilitate the public and different stakeholders to buy "designated garbage bags".

A4: Each "designated garbage bag" comes with an anti-counterfeit label. Citizens should purchase "designated garbage bags" from authorised sales points or vending machines.

A5: If the waste cannot be properly wrapped into a "designated garbage bag", it should be affixed with an "oversized waste label" . The price of "oversized waste labels" is set at a uniform rate of $11 each. "Oversized waste label" can be purchased at over 4000 sales points (e.g. supermarkets, convenience stores, post offices, personal care products stores, gas stations, etc.). Public can also purchase "oversized waste labels" at vending machines.

The above "oversized waste label" arrangement is not applicable to waste collected by private waste collectors, which would be charged based on its weight (i.e. gate-fee). For details, please refer to How to pay

A6: According to the current proposal, individual households should wrap their waste properly in "designated garbage bags" before putting them at the building's temporary waste collection / storage areas. Depending on the need of individual premises, PMCs may use transparent garbage bags for waste collection to ensure that all the waste inside is wrapped into "designated garbage bags". PMCs are not required to use "designated garbage bags" to collect waste from individual households. Nevertheless, for waste collected by FEHD; or by private waste collectors using RCVs with rear compactors; or waste disposed of at the FEHD's RCPs, the PMCs should ensure that the waste being disposed of at the RCVs or RCPs has been properly wrapped in "designated garbage bags".

A7: Waste should be wrapped into "designated garbage bags" in order to meet the proposed legal requirements, irrespective of the floors or locations at which the waste is disposed of. Enforcement officers will conduct inspections and take enforcement actions based on complaints received and at black spots identified.

A8: For the small litter containers placed in the public areas of buildings, the use of "designated garbage bags" is not required. Nevertheless, cleansing workers should use "designated garbage bags" when collecting the waste and putting the waste onto RCVs.

A9: To reduce expenditures on MSW charging, the primary way is to reduce waste at source. Besides, practising clean recycling and allowing resources to be reused through different recycling channels can also reduce waste disposal effectively.

A10: We should practise clean recycling of paper, plastic and metal waste through different recycling bins, such as those placed in housing estates or near RCPs. For more information about clean recycling and waste reduction, please visit the related website.

A11: Regarding the roadside recycling bins, the Government provides collection service through contractors, and would, through contractual terms, ensure the contractors recycle the recyclables properly or pass them to appropriate recyclers for handling. In addition, private waste collectors disposing of waste at landfills will be subject to waste charges (gate-fee or purchasing designated garbage bags to wrap the waste) upon implementation of the charging scheme. Therefore, there will be more incentives for private waste collectors to handle and recycle the recyclables collected properly.

A12: To demonstrate the Government's determination to promote waste reduction and recycling and to complement the implementation of MSW charging, the Government is ready to provide recurrent resources to strengthen the work on waste reduction and recycling. The Government will provide an additional provision of around $300-400 million for the 2019-20 financial year to start with, which would be further increased to no less than $800-1,000 million from the financial year when the MSW charging is to be implemented to adhere to the 'dedicated-fund-for-dedicated-use' principle. .

Such waste reduction and recycling work includes the setting up of outreaching teams to provide on-site assistance to the community, thereby putting waste reduction and recycling and MSW charging into practice; provision of free territory-wide collection service in respect of waste plastics from non-commercial and industrial (C&I) sources and food waste from all sources in the longer run subject to the experiences gained from the pilot schemes on non-C&I waste plastics and C&I food waste and the progress of developing food waste recovery centres in Hong Kong; and implementation of a pilot scheme to assess the effectiveness of applying reverse vending machines in recycling plastic beverage containers.

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Wong Kam Sing