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Hong Kong – Municipal Solid Waste Charging

Hong Kong - Municipal Solid Waste Charging

The government will implement municipal solid waste charging (garbage charging) on August 1, 2024, according to the “polluter pays” principle, charging for the disposal of garbage in all sectors of Hong Kong based on quantity. The implementation of garbage charging is necessary due to the high per capita disposal of municipal solid waste, which reached 1.53 kilograms per day in 2021, higher than other major cities, imposing a heavy burden on landfills. In the context of global climate change, it is imperative to promote waste reduction and support recycling to reduce carbon emissions and achieve low-carbon transformation. Introducing a garbage charging system is a key tool in our waste reduction policy, promoting behavioral change, encouraging all sectors of society to cherish resources, practice waste reduction at the source, promote clean recycling, and reduce overall waste disposal.

There are two charging models: (i) “by bag”/”by label” charging and (ii) charging “by weight at the gate,” with the applicable charging model depending on the waste collection arrangement used by the waste generator. (i) “By bag”/”by label” charging is carried out by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) through its garbage trucks, collection points, and garbage bin stations, as well as by private waste collectors using compacted garbage trucks, and charges are levied on designated bags on a pre-paid basis. These garbage must be properly packed in designated bags before disposal. In the first three years of garbage charging implementation, the charge for designated bags is HKD 0.11 per liter. There are nine different sizes of designated bags, ranging in capacity from 3 liter to 100 liter, to meet the needs of different users. For large items that cannot be packed in designated bags, citizens must affix a designated label to each item before disposal, with a uniform charge of HKD 11 per label. Citizens can purchase designated bags and labels at thousands of authorized retail outlets (such as supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, online platforms, etc.). (ii) Charging “by weight at the gate” is carried out by private waste collectors using non-compacted garbage trucks to collect and dispose of garbage, and charges are levied based on the weight of the garbage disposed of at waste disposal facilities (i.e., landfills or waste transfer stations). Under the “by weight at the gate” charging model, citizens do not need to use designated bags or labels for garbage disposal.

Experience from other cities has shown that the key to the successful implementation of garbage charging lies in public education, promotion, and encouraging stakeholder participation. We conduct promotion and public education work based on three principles, including:

  1. Promoting a sustainable and widespread public education campaign under the theme of “use less, save more,” targeting the general public and specific groups (such as the elderly and ethnic minorities).
  2. Continuously organizing community participation projects tailored to specific environments to allow relevant parties to experience firsthand how garbage charging is implemented. We collaborate closely with various government departments, the Environmental Campaign Committee, village representatives, environmental groups, schools, and other stakeholders to promote activities together.
  3. The “Green Outreach Team” established by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) provides outreach services and on-site assistance.