Lawmaker proposes indefinite delay for waste charging scheme, property management sector rejects abandoning pilot

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Edward Lau

27th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) The implementation of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) charging scheme, originally scheduled for 1st August, has been delayed for the second time. However, the recent conclusion of the “early and pilot implementation” phase has been met with widespread criticism, casting doubt on the full-scale rollout of the program. Reports indicate that the government will not proceed with the planned August 1st implementation and has refrained from setting a specific date, with an official announcement expected to be made in the Legislative Council today.

Edward Lau Kwok-fan, a member of the Legislative Council, voiced concerns during a radio program, citing the uncertain economic situation as a reason to reconsider the timely implementation of the waste charging scheme. Lau emphasised that proceeding as planned would impose additional financial burdens on businesses and residents, while the recycling infrastructure is not yet adequately prepared, potentially leading to chaos. Therefore, he supports a temporary postponement of the scheme.

In Lau’s opinion, the more appropriate approach would be an indefinite suspension of the scheme rather than imposing a rigid implementation date. Given the unknown timeline for economic recovery and the uncertain progress of recycling initiatives, a flexible approach is necessary. Suspending the legislation does not mean halting efforts to promote waste reduction and recycling. Public awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and enhanced recycling facilities can continue to be developed during this period.

Former President of The Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, Dr Johnnie Casire CHAN Chi-kau, echoed the sentiment during the same radio program, stating that the industry welcomes the delayed implementation of waste charging in August. While recognizing that the government has considered the potential impact on the public, Chan emphasised that the “early and pilot implementation” phase has already begun and should not be abandoned. Regarding the handling of increased management fees if the waste charging scheme is further delayed, Chan explained that management expenses involve various factors, with waste charging being just one component. Property owners’ incorporated owners’ corporations and property management companies are already discussing strategies to address the issue. Options such as refunding fees to residents or refraining from increasing management fees next year can be considered and resolved through negotiation.