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Hong Kong’s hi-tech treatment plants no substitute for less waste

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Christmas has become a season of material excess and waste. Malls are outdoing each other with imported Christmas trees and seasonal decorations, most of which will end up in landfills, along with an enormous amount of packaging that goes with all the gift-giving and increased consumption. There is also the leftover food from celebratory lunches and dinners that will be thrown away.

Perhaps two Christmases from now, Hong Kong’s behaviour might be more circumspect because we will all be charged for our waste. The government has presented its municipal solid waste charging bill to the Legislative Council and scrutiny of the bill will start soon. Hopefully, it will be passed within 2019 and go into effect the following year.

The new law will touch each and every one of us, at work and at home each and every day, and also when we shop and eat out. You will be charged less if you separate your waste for recycling. This is the incentive for households and businesses. At the same time, we all have to reorganise to separate recyclables.

Most people in Hong Kong live and work in high-rise buildings. Space needs to be made somewhere in the building to hold the recyclables for collection. Building managers, property owners and tenants have to cooperate for waste separation, and arrangements have to be made for the recyclables to be taken away. Buildings without management and rural villages need some other arrangements.

Waste charging changes the markets for recyclables. When the public does not have to share the cost of dealing with waste, apart from taking it to the........

© South China Morning Post