Hong Kong’s waste-charging scheme projected to garner HK$1.79 billion

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Tse Chin-wan

1st March 2024 – (Hong Kong) The upcoming pay-as-you-throw waste initiative in Hong Kong is projected to generate an unexpected HK$1.79 billion in its first fiscal year, significantly surpassing the initial revenue estimates of HK$800 million to HK$1 billion. This revelation has prompted public discourse on the allocation of these funds, with environmental concerns at the forefront.

Environment and Ecology Secretary Tse Chin-wan, addressing concerns on Friday, firmly stated that the scheme’s primary intent is not revenue generation but to encourage waste reduction and enhance recycling efforts across the city.

The revised revenue forecast, which represents a potential 80 per cent increase over initial estimates, raises questions about the government’s spending strategy, specifically whether the entirety of the funds will be channelled towards environmental protection efforts.

Mr. Tse reaffirmed the government’s commitment, made during the legislative phase, to direct the scheme’s proceeds exclusively towards activities that support waste minimisation and recycling initiatives. He cited a 2021 survey indicating that roughly half of the population is expected to use the official designated garbage bags, contributing an estimated HK$1.6 billion to the city’s coffers.

The balance of the proceeds, around HK$200 million, is expected to come from gate fees, targeting refuse collection services and major waste producers, including factories and shopping centres.

The secretary clarified that the estimations are preliminary and are framed with a balanced perspective, neither overly optimistic nor unduly pessimistic. He also noted that actual revenues could be influenced by the public’s adaptability to the new system and the level of their participation.

A gradual decrease in revenue is anticipated as residents adapt by purchasing fewer official garbage bags and reducing waste output, aligning with the scheme’s environmental objectives.

The full implementation of the waste-charging scheme is slated for 1st August, with a pilot phase for government departments beginning 1st April. Mr. Tse assured that preparations are proceeding apace, with further announcements to be made as the implementation date approaches.