Delay in implementing municipal solid waste charging on 1st August and no specific implementation date set, sources

Insert picture: Edward Lau

26th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) According to sources, the scheduled implementation of the municipal solid waste (MSW) charging has been delayed until 1st August, but the recent completion of the “early and pilot implementation” program has received widespread criticism. The government is set to announce the direction of waste charging tomorrow (26th), and there are reports suggesting that the government will not proceed with the plan on 1st August as originally planned, and a specific implementation date has yet to be determined. It is also mentioned that the authorities will continue to distribute designated garbage bags free of charge to public housing residents for six months to allow citizens to adapt to their usage. There will also be conditions for the distribution of designated bags to private residential buildings.

In reality, the results of many public opinion surveys have shown a high opposition rate to the implementation of the waste charging scheme, and there is also dissatisfaction with the inadequate supporting facilities provided by the government.

Edward Lau Kwok-fan, MH, JP, Chairman of the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs, suggested that the government can retain the main legislation related to waste charging while abolishing the subsidiary legislation regarding the implementation date. This approach allows for economic recovery and the establishment of community recycling facilities before considering the implementation.

Lau proposed that since the government had originally planned to distribute designated bags to public housing residents free of charge, they should continue to do so as part of promotional and educational efforts. He believes that private residential buildings and businesses can obtain designated bags for free by signing agreements to promote recycling and waste reduction. He also hopes that the government will engage in more promotional and educational campaigns to address the existing issues.

Another legislator, Michael Tien, believes that the government should proceed with waste charging as scheduled on August 1st, providing designated bags free of charge to the entire Hong Kong population for one year. During this period, there will be a grace period during which no prosecution will take place. If individuals are found not using the designated bags for proper waste disposal, they will receive notification letters. After the grace period, the authorities will intensify inspections for those who have received multiple notifications.

Tien pointed out that many citizens still believe that waste charging will only increase their burden, without realising that proper waste sorting and recycling can exempt them from fees. He criticised the government’s insufficient promotional strategies and called for a one-year period for effective promotion and education, as well as the improvement of various supporting facilities.