Hong Kong ponders waste charge

Waste is a big issue in Hong Kong. So bad is the situation that by 2015, the city-state expects its landfills to be full. The densely populated city produces an astonishing 6.4 million tons of waste annually, and given that there is still plenty of scope for growth, it poses a huge problem for officials.
The government is aware of the problem though and has introduced various waste management schemes, as well as looking at ways of educating the public on how to better manage rubbish and increase recycling.
One significant strategy under consideration is introducing fees for waste that goes to landfills, which is unprecedented. That is indicative of how serious the problem is. It would have been reasonable to have assumed that this would not be well received, but it is in fact widely supported.
While the idea of levying a charge for waste in Western countries would probably be contested fiercely, Hong Kong’s citizens, being aware that waste is a real societal issue, back it.
According to the city-state’s Environment Protection Department, 60 per cent are in favour of total garbage fees, while 57 per cent felt that a quantity-based system was a much fairer approach to encouraging people to cut down on waste.
The department has been keen to get across the message that this is not simply a way of raising money for the government, with some critics of the yet-to-be confirmed scheme equating it to a kind of hidden tax.
In-depth consultations will be instigated next year to gauge public opinion in much more detail, with any introduction of fees occurring in 2016 at the earliest. It would be phased, however, starting with the commercial and industrial sectors, and then move onto the domestic sector.
Therefore, under the assumption that landfills will reach full capacity by 2015, the next two years are critical in getting businesses, organisations and people at large to be proactive in their waste management.
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