By Tsang Ka Yi
Have you considered reducing your household waste disposal everyday now? Will your mind be changed if you are told to pay for garbage you disposed?
The consultation of household rubbish disposal charge started recently. The Commission of Sustainable Development has put forward 3 proposals for the consultation. The capacity of the landfills in Hong Kong will be saturated soon and at the same time, the long-term solution of the waste treatment like building incinerator is yet to achieve. Therefore, the government wants to utilize the disposal charge to reduce waste production at the source.
The first proposal is to charge each household according to the waste amount produced. The second and third proposals are charging the whole building by the waste size or amount and the cost is evenly distributed to each household.
The main controversy I would like to discuss is that whether this legislation is fair to everyone in Hong Kong. Also, which proposal may be the best solution to reduce waste production?
First of all, I don’t think that the second and third proposals are fair enough to everyone.
We all know that the amount of waste produced by each household is different. So, why should everyone be charged the same cost? This may deviate from the main objective of the legislation claimed by the government. That is, to reduce waste at the source. If every household in a common building bears the cost evenly, the one who produce more waste may feel that there are others to share their charges and may therefore lack motivation to reduce waste disposal. Hence, this charge system may be unfair to some people producing less waste. Also, we have to bear in mind that there is a group of people who are environmentalists. Some housing estates in Hong Kong have introduced a recycling system and hence people can recycle different waste separately every week. As a result, the waste they dispose each day is only of a small amount. This will in turn punish those people with incentive to protect the environment. How could this legislation provide the motivation for people to reduce waste production when people doing waste recycling are being punished?
In addition, some buildings in Hong Kong have multiple usages, especially those in central business district like Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. These buildings have both residential and commercial uses such as Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is not convenience for practice actually. Since the waste production volume of commercial and residential units are hugely different. For example, the waste and leftover produced by a restaurant should be far larger than those disposed by residential households. Thus, it is totally unfair to residential households if the charge is equally taken by each unit within the same building.
In my opinion, the first proposal is the fairest method to charge waste disposal.
However, there are still many details the government has to pay attention to and I got some suggestions.
The government should provide enough evidence to prove that the charge can effectively reduce waste production in Hong Kong. On the other hand, it has to make sure that the cost of collecting charge will reasonably be lower than the benefits from reducing waste. Also, the government can set up a fund using the charges collected to spend on environment protection or waste reduction. This can soothe the public concern of where the charges will go.
Hong Kong: World’s most wasteful city
What do you feel after watching the video? Do you agree that our government should charge our waste disposal in order to reduce waste?
More about the topic:
1. Experts propose ways to make Hong Kong a green metropolis, South China Morning Post, 25 September 2013.
2. Hong Kong may charge for rubbish disposal, Channel Newsasia, 25 September 2013. Available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/hong-kong-may-charge-for/826174.html
3. 廢物徵費次階段諮詢文件提三方案, Now News, 25 September 2013.
4. Waste and Recycling in Hong Kong, GovHK. Available at http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/environment/waste/wasterecycinhk.htm
5. SMMART Waste Management Pays Off in Taiwan, Angelina Jao, Waste Managemetn World, 2011. Available at http://www.waste-management-world.com/articles/print/volume-13/issue-5/wmw-special-recycling-focus/smmart-waste-management-pays-off-in-taiwan.html