Hong Kong authorities announced that it will kick off its waste-charging scheme for residents on August 1, pushing back the start date of the initiative by four months to give the public time to understand how it will work. However, the programme will apply to government departments from April 1, which will conduct pilot tests that will serve as demonstrations for the public.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Tse Chin-wan, said, “Many people expressed their concern to me, that the general public do not understand how waste-charging will be implemented. I believe that it is just a responsible act for us to put more time into the education so that when we implement waste-charging, it will be implemented successfully and smoothly,” said Tse.

Hong Kong Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Tse Chin-wan, explains the delay of the Municipal Solid Waste Charging scheme.

Under the Municipal Solid Waste Charging scheme, Hongkongers will need to use prepaid, government-approved trash bags to dispose of their garbage, and must pay HK$0.11 for each litre of garbage they get rid of. The bags will come in nine different sizes, ranging from 3 litres to 100 litres in capacity, and each one will cost anything from HK$0.30 to HK$11.

The bags will be available at supermarkets, convenience stores, and pharmacies, and retailers can even sell them to customers to double as carry bags before they use them to dispose of their trash later. Residents who wish to get rid of big items that do not fit into these authorised bags must stick a special label on them, priced at HK$11, and take them to specific collection points for disposal.

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hong kong government workers talking to a resident about the waste-charging scheme
The government will use the next four months to generate awareness about the waste-charging initiative among residents of the city (© GovHK)

The government hopes that the waste-charging scheme will reduce the amount of rubbish that makes its way to the city’s landfills, which as of 2021 was 1.53 kg/person in Hong Kong. Authorities will fine anyone who fails to use these designated bags and labels HK$1,500, while those who use public waste bins to get rid of their trash must pay a penalty of HK$3,000.

Hong Kong authorities have introduced several measures to cut down the negative impact of waste and plastic on the environment — most notably by charging customers for plastic bags they use at stores or to make online purchases, and doubling the fines for littering. The next big move will come on April 22, 2024, when the ban on single-use plastics at restaurants and hotels comes into effect.

Header image credits: Johny Ho via Flickr

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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