LCQ18: Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme


Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (June 12):

Question:

     The Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme (the Charging Scheme) will be implemented in the second half of 2019 at the earliest. A charging arrangement based on the weight of waste under the Charging Scheme will apply mainly to the situation in which private waste collectors (PWCs) transport the waste they collect from their clients (i.e. waste producers) directly to refuse transfer stations (RTSs) or landfills.

When disposing of waste, PWCs will be required to pay, using payment accounts, a gate fee which will be based on the weight of waste ranging from $365 to $395 per tonne. In addition, both PWCs and their clients may register as payment account holders and they will need to reach on their own agreements on the apportionment of the gate fee. However, some PWCs have indicated that although the current gate fees range from $30 to $110 per tonne only, there are still from time to time clients defaulting on reimbursing them the advance payments for the gate fees.

Quite a number of PWCs have indicated that they cannot afford the huge amount of gate fees. They are of the view that such charging arrangement is unfair and goes against the "polluter pays" principle. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the current number of PWCs, the respective total numbers of refuse collection vehicles under such PWCs and the workers employed by them, as well as the respective current daily weights of domestic waste and industrial and commercial (I&C) waste handled by PWCs;

(2) of the average daily weight of waste transported by PWCs to various RTSs and landfills in the past three years and its percentage in the total weight of solid waste;

(3) whether the authorities will assist PWCs in discussing with their clients to work out feasible arrangements for apportioning gate fees; whether the authorities will consider stipulating that only waste producers may register as payment account holders, so as to reduce the operating risks of PWCs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) whether the authorities will consider revising the charging arrangements under the Charging Scheme to require that producers of I&C waste or domestic waste, regardless of the means through which the waste is disposed of, must all put the waste in pre-paid designated garbage bags or designated containers, so as to obviate the need for PWCs to pay the gate fees; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

(1) Currently, private waste collectors (PWCs) are required to register with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) for disposing of waste at the EPD's refuse transfer stations (RTSs).

As at July 2017, the number of PWCs who have registered with the EPD for using RTSs is 845, and the number of waste collection vehicles registered under their names is about 1 900. In addition, based on the information collected by the EPD at the landfills, the number of private waste collection vehicles that have not registered for using RTSs and delivered municipal solid waste (MSW) directly to landfills for disposal in 2016 is about 1 800. The EPD does not have the statistics on the number of workers employed by PWCs.

     Based on the waste intake records of the EPD, the average quantity of domestic waste collected by PWCs and delivered to various waste disposal facilities (including RTSs and landfills) in 2016 were 1 177 tonnes per day (tpd).

As for commercial and industrial (C&I) waste, there were on average 3 955 tpd.

(2) The average daily quantity of MSW collected by PWCs and delivered to RTSs and landfills, and the corresponding percentage of the total quantity of MSW received in the past three years are as follows:
 
Year 2014 2015 2016
Average daily quantity(tpd) Percentage of MSW received Average daily quantity(tpd) Percentage of MSW received Average daily quantity(tpd) Percentage of MSW received
MSW collected by PWCs and delivered to waste disposal facilities 4 555 46% 4 868 48% 5 132 49%

(3) Following the framework proposal for the implementation of MSW charging as proposed by the Council for Sustainable Development, PWCs are required to register as account holders and pay the gate fee for the disposal of MSW at RTSs and landfills. PWCs should work out with their clients on how to apportion the MSW charges on the basis of the latter’s waste load. We have all along been liaising with the PWCs on the proposed gate fee arrangement and appreciate that they are very concerned about the issues that may arise from the arrangement including cash flow, apportionment of charges and bad debt, etc.

Having regard to their views, we propose that a hybrid mechanism be adopted to allow both PWCs and waste producers to register as account holders for paying the gate fee. This provides flexibility for the PWCs to work out with their clients a mutually agreed payment arrangement. To facilitate the PWCs to work out with their clients apportionment arrangements for MSW charges based on the quantity of waste, the Government will prepare relevant best practice guides, which include practicable apportionment methods, for reference by the trade.

We will keep liaising with the relevant stakeholders to explore suitable arrangements as appropriate.

(4) The PWCs are currently collecting different types of MSW, some of which are not suitable for wrapping into designated bags or containers due to their size, weight or nature etc ., such as furniture and wood boards used in exhibitions. This notwithstanding, having regard to the concerns raised by the trade and their suggestions as well as the objective to provide more direct financial incentive to the waste producers for promoting waste reduction and recycling, we are actively reviewing whether the scope of application of designated garbage bags can be expanded. We are also discussing with the trade and conducting a trial run with them in exploring the feasibility of the proposal.



Published on: 2017-07-12

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