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Consultant ‘has taken sides’ on waste charging

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

News›Hong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

The Council for Sustainable Development and its consultant have been accused by green activists of jumping to a conclusion on the best means of charging for household waste disposal.

Activists said the council and a consultant appointed to gauge public views were favouring the easy option of charging per building instead of a fairer method of charging each household for what they actually dumped. But council chairman Bernard Chan rejected the claim, saying no decision could be made before interim results of a pilot scheme were released in September.

The row follows a meeting of council members and a group of advisers late last month.

A digest of the meeting released by the council secretariat said participants felt household and weight-based charging could not be achieved “in a single step” and building-based charging should be used.

Conservancy Association deputy chief executive Rico Wong Tze-kang, one of the advisers, said he was surprised by the summary as it ran contrary to the consultation findings. “It seems the consultant has taken sides already,” he said.

The council must find the most suitable charging method to be introduced by 2016 at the earliest. It is due to report later this year.

The household approach is supported by a majority of respondents to questionnaires in the consultation that ended earlier this year, according to the consultant’s analysis.

Green activists are strongly in favour of that approach as it offers direct incentives for each household to cut waste.

They also acknowledge it would be harder to enforce. But they say the building-based method – with charges shared equally – would not offer the same incentives.

Chan said his view was that residents and property management firms should decide what methods to adopt in each building. “There is no single plan that fits all,” he said, adding that there was a need to secure political support as lawmakers must approve the plan.

The council would meet on Monday to determine the level of the charge, Chan added. He believed it should not be too high, due to the risk of fly-tipping.

The Environmental Protection Department said the meeting digest summarised members’ views and did not reflect any conclusion.

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