Submission on the Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018 from Prof. Alexis Lau
Dear Members of the Bills Committee,
Submission on the Waste Disposal
(Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018
We write to support the Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018. Hong Kong’s municipal solid waste (MSW) charging scheme is long overdue. According to the HKSAR Government report - “Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022”, our MSW increased by nearly 80% in the past 30 years while our population grew by 36%. As an responsible international city, Hong Kong including our people, policy leaders and legislators must all step up our efforts and live the duty-bound Polluter Pays Principle.
Compared with the numbers in Singapore (1%), Taiwan (2%) and South Korea (19%), more than 50% of Hong Kong’s MSW has been dumped in the landfills – our number is extraordinary and appalling, and a MSW charging disincentive is urgently needed to drive behavior change at source!
The waste disposal rate in Taipei and South Korea dropped a lot (around 30%) in the initial period after their introduction of quantity-based waste charging. Besides evidences from our neighbors, Hong Kong’s own experience in reducing construction waste to landfill by 60% after the introduction of the construction waste disposal charge in 2006 is also significant and instructive. There is no more excuse to further procrastinate the long-delayed MSW charging bill, and at this point, legislators must take the responsible step for our next generation to support and pass the Bill.
Experience from other cities has clearly shown that MSW charging is a necessary and effective driver to change behaviors (both on reducing waste disposal and on choosing manufacturers or service providers that generate less wastes). In addition, a holistic plan with multipronged approach to close the loop is also needed. We, therefore, also urge the HKSAR Government to continue to review, fine-tune and improve the MSW management scheme. Together with other policy support for recycling, enforcement, and public education, we look forward to Hong Kong becoming more sustainable and our consumption and production becoming more responsible.
Alexis K.H. Lau
Director and Chair Professor,
Institute for the Environment
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology