Hong Kong residents say waste-charging scheme ‘disruptive’, only a fifth use required rubbish bags in trial: government

Hong Kong residents say waste-charging scheme ‘disruptive’, only a fifth use required rubbish bags in trial: government

Hongkongers joining the city’s waste-charging trial have found the scheme “disruptive” and “expensive” with a survey showing as few as 20 per cent of residents in certain sites using designated rubbish bags in the pilot programme, according to environment authorities.

These findings were detailed in a paper submitted to the Legislative Council on Friday by the Environment and Ecology Bureau, after district councillors gathered feedback from 750 stakeholders including residents, cleaners, property management operators and businesses.

However, the government did not announce any changes to the scheme, which is set to begin on August 1.

Most residential buildings and shopping centres saw no change to the amount of waste discharged since the trial, while restaurants, care homes and government premises recorded a reduction of 10 to 20 per cent.

Among the 14 pilot sites, restaurants and government buildings were mostly in full compliance when it came to using designated bags required by the management, while the utilisation rate at shopping centres registered at about 70 per cent.

The rates for households were however much lower, with average utilisation at public and private residential buildings ranging from about 20 to 50 per cent. Utilisation rates at ‘three-nil’ buildings – those without maintenance companies, owners’ corporations or residents’ organisations managing them – stood at about 20 per cent.

DAB lawmaker Ben Chan says his party has “great reservations” about the August 1 implementation of the waste-charging scheme. Photo: Facebook

“Many residents have reflected that the refuse collection charge is a nuisance to the public and some have said that the fee is too expensive, adding to their financial burden,” the paper read.

“They are worried that the legislation, when it comes into effect, will increase random littering.”

Respondents to the survey were particularly concerned about the potential hygiene problems in the city’s “three-nil” buildings.

Cleaners said dealing with rubbish not disposed in designated bags had added to their workload and expressed concerns about disputes with residents or inadvertent breaches of the law. A few added that they were considering changing jobs when the scheme was implemented.

Restaurateurs, businesses and care homes indicated that the programme would exert pressure on their operating costs and suggested that the design of large designated bags should be improved to avoid tears and spillage of refuse.

The government is expected to explain to lawmakers on Monday how the scheme will be refined upon reviewing the Environment and Ecology Bureau’s findings.

Meanwhile, a separate survey by the city’s largest political party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), found that a majority of Hong Kong residents did not support the waste-charging scheme and about a third opposed the planned start date.

“The DAB has great reservations about the August 1 implementation of the waste-charging scheme and the party suggests the authorities postpone the levy,” one of the party’s legislators, Ben Chan Han-pan, said on Friday.

“We won’t set a date for the postponement [but] hope that the government can launch a large-scale recycling drive during the postponement and put relevant infrastructure in place. When these are done and [there is] a higher participation rate from the public, then we will review whether the charge is still necessary,” he added.

The DAB’s phone survey of 1,560 random respondents was conducted over two periods: April 5 to 11 and May 6 to 10. Among the respondents, 65 per cent said they did not support the waste-charging scheme, 33 per cent wanted it to be further postponed and 45 per cent felt it should not be implemented at all.

When asked whether the party’s comments meant that it wanted to overturn a bill that had already been passed, Chan was non-committal, saying the DAB was “look[ing] at the issue from a more practical perspective”.

Another lawmaker, Chan Hoi-yan, recently conducted a poll showing 78 per cent of Hongkongers wanted the scheme delayed.



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