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Review of Stakeholder's Feedback on the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Charging Scheme

Sustainability has become a global trend, with individuals, companies, and governments striving to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. In line with this movement, the Hong Kong government plans to implement the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) charging Scheme. Only in May 2024 did the government postpone the scheme to focus on strengthening recycling infrastructure and public awareness before revisiting the scheme design. This article provides an overview of the scheme and presents various perspectives from different stakeholders.


Background Information

According to the Environmental Protection Department (2024), waste reduction has become urgent as Hong Kong's existing landfills are expected to reach capacity soon. MSW charging is viewed as an effective policy tool to encourage waste reduction and recycling among businesses and the public. It also promotes the sustainable development of related industries and creates green job opportunities. Additionally, the government has implemented other policies, such as charging for plastic shopping bags and producer responsibility schemes for various types of waste.


Under the MSW charging policy, all waste disposed of by residential and non-residential premises in Hong Kong, including the commercial and industrial sectors, will be charged based on the quantity of waste generated. This approach aligns with the "polluter-pays" principle and aims to address carbon emissions and combat climate change.


Stakeholder's Point of View

The charging scheme's aim is ideal, but it should also be implemented effectively. Beginning in early January, government officials began organizing various activities to explain the details of the charging scheme to the public. The public raised various questions related to the implementation details, and some stakeholders also expressed their concerns at the same time.


Restaurant Practitioner

Simon Wong, the Honorary President of the Institute of Dining Professionals, claims that insufficient supporting facilities make it difficult for restaurants to support the scheme (HKTKWW, 2024). Also, not all restaurants have sufficient space for multiple collection bins and extra manpower to separate kitchen waste. Therefore, some restaurants may pay directly to dispose of waste in designated bags.


Grassroots

The Hong Kong Association of Community Organizations (HKCSS,2024) interviewed 306 low-income tenants in poor housing in February 2024 to explore their opinions on the MSW Charing scheme. In March, they released a survey report on the views of grassroots tenants on the scheme. It is pointed out that the living and economic environments of grassroots subdivided houses could be better, and the supporting facilities for waste collection and environmental recycling could be much better. The government needs to provide support in the aspects of the economy, waste collection, and community recycling.



References

Environmental Protection Department. (2023). Background. https://www.mswcharging.gov.hk/en/about_us/background/


HKTKWW. (2024, January 20). 餐飲業:回收配套不足 廚餘減廢困難. https://www.tkww.hk/epaper/view/newsDetail/1748409654930706432.html


Hong Kong Association of Community Organizations. (2024, March 3). 劏房租戶對垃圾徵費意見調查發佈會. https://soco.org.hk/pr240303/



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