Hong Kong households will be charged based on the amount of waste they produce under a newly passed waste-charging scheme, but won’t be in effect until 2023. 

What is Happening? 

Hong Kong lawmakers finally approved a long-delayed bill that will require local residents and households to pay for their rubbish on August 26. The new waste-charging scheme hopes to encourage people to reduce waste as well as incentivise more recycling in the city. 

The waste-charging scheme requires households to dispose their trash in special bags provided by the government, which will come in a variety of sizes. The smallest bags start from a volume of 3 litre, which will cost residents HKD$0.3, and go up to 100 litre-bags, which will charge $11. For any oversize trash that doesn’t fit into the largest provided bags will have to pay an extra $11 and be tagged with a special label. An average household will likely pay about $33 to $55 every month for the amount of waste they produce.

Every year, about 4.17 million tonnes of solid waste end up in landfills and less than 20% of waste is recycled. This is largely due to the fact that there’s a lack of proper recycling infrastructure in Hong Kong and public distrust in the efficiency of recycling. 

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While most retail shops will be responsible for paying their own trash as well, under the new waste-charging scheme, industrial and commercial sites that use private collection services will have to pay a “gate fee” approximately around $365-396 per tonne of waste generated. 

Trash bags in packs of 10 can be purchased through local post offices, convenience stores and even vending machines, according to the Environmental Protection Department. 

Once the law is in effect, there will be a short grace period during which residents will be issued warnings if they don’t dispose of their trash properly, but after the window, people will have to pay $1,500 for any rubbish not thrown out in the approved bags. 

However, the scheme is not expected to come into force for another 18 months as the Hong Kong government states they need enough time to put systems in place as well as educating the public on how the scheme will work.