Published: 10:05, January 17, 2024 | Updated: 10:13, January 17, 2024
Govt vows to beef up campaign on waste charging
By Atlas Shao in Hong Kong

Students of Yaumati Kaifong Association School on Tuesday frolic with Big Waster, the Environment and Ecology Bureau’s ambassador. The school in Yau Ma Tei district organized educational activities on municipal solid waste and set up various booths to educate students on waste reduction and recycling. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

The government will step up promotional campaigns, including distributing free designated garbage bags to the city’s 330,000 primary school students, to help as many residents as possible learn about the upcoming waste charge program, which starts on April 1. 

Tse Chin-wan, secretary for environment and ecology, attended an in-school promotion event on the upcoming waste charging on Tuesday. 

After the event, he revealed that the Environment and Ecology Bureau will distribute a free 15-liter designated garbage bag to every primary school student in the city in the coming two months, hoping the move can let students convey the information of waste charge to their parents and enhance the new policy’s publicity at the family level.

Tse said the bureau will also display publicity materials, including posters and banners, in primary and secondary schools across the city.

Tse added that managing companies of housing estates may help handle waste that is not placed in designated bags so that the garbage can be collected on time. However, it does not mean that residents do not need to buy designated bags, he said.

Starting April 1, Hong Kong residents should dispose of domestic waste as well as waste arising from commercial and industrial premises in designated bags or with labels — which can be bought from over 3,000 convenience stores, supermarkets and other authorized retailers across the city. Waste collected by private collectors using refuse collection vehicles without rear compactors will be charged by weight before disposal.

Construction waste, chemical waste and clinical waste will continue to be handled under existing charging programs.

Also on Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu reaffirmed that he hopes the details of the waste charging program have been clearly explained “short, sharp and clear” to the public.

Lee also urged stakeholders, including property management companies and the catering industry, to understand their respective roles and legal responsibilities.

“This charging policy is an important policy to change human behavior. We know it is full of challenges and uncertainties when all these new behaviors need to be, in some way, carried out by everybody in the whole of Hong Kong. It is a cultural change as well, so all these things will be for everybody to take note of,” he said.

Earlier, the Environmental Protection Department announced that it has signed contracts with major chain retailers in the city to set up a citywide retail network of the designated garbage bags and labels, enabling the public to purchase them easily after for implementation of waste charging.

The retailers will begin selling the bags and labels in late January and February.

Retailers are also encouraged to sell the designated bags in place of the ordinary plastic shopping bags at their checkout counters to promote waste reduction, a department spokesperson said.

The department has been accepting bulk purchase applications from organizations and companies since late 2023. As of mid-January, it has received about 6,300 applications.

Gary Chiu contributed to this story.