Written by Kevin Owen (Partner) and Andrew MacGeoch (Partner)
The Waste Disposal (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2003 ("Bill") was presented to the Legislative Council for its first reading on 17 December 2003. The Bill proposed (i) to introduce a charging scheme for the disposal of construction waste at landfills, sorting facilities and public fill reception facilities, and (ii) to strengthen the control against illegal disposal of waste.
Our landfills are filling up much faster than expected. Given Hong Kong's current level of creating waste volume, these landfills are likely to be full between 2008-2011 (instead of 2020 as planned).
One solution to slow down the depletion of limited landfill capacity is to control the waste disposal volume. As construction waste is the major source of waste disposed of at landfills and a large portion of the waste is reusable or recyclable, the Bill has proposed a charging system for construction waste disposal in the hope of providing an economic incentive for construction waste producers to reduce waste and to carry out waste sorting.
Charging Scheme For Construction Waste Disposal
The key features of the proposed charging scheme are:
(i) to charge for construction waste disposed of at landfills, sorting facilities and public fill reception facilities;
(ii) to set the disposal charge at $125 per tonne at landfills, around $100 per tonne at sorting facilities and $27 per tonne at public fill reception facilities;
(iii) to establish a direct settlement system requiring major waste producers (mainly construction contractors) to open accounts and pay waste disposal charges direct to the Government;
(iv) to levy the charge on minor renovation works through waste haulers that deliver the waste to the facilities; and
(v) to exempt all construction contracts that are awarded before the commencement of the charging scheme.
Strengthening Of Control Against Illegal Disposal Of Waste
The existing Waste Disposal Ordinance already provides sanctions against illegal disposal of waste. However, the problem is expected to be aggravated after the introduction of the charging scheme. The Bill therefore has proposed to strengthen controls against such acts to minimize an adverse impact on the environment. The proposed measures include:
(i) empowering the court to order the person convicted of illegal disposal of waste to remove the waste on government land, and if the government has already carried out the removal work, to pay all or part of the removal cost incurred by the Government;
(ii) empowering the Director of Environmental Protection to enter without warrant any place (except domestic premises and/or dwelling places on private land) to remove the waste deposited illegally if there is an imminent risk of serious environmental impact and immediate remedial actions are required; and
(iii) making it an offence for the driver of a vehicle (not being a public transport carrier) and his employer to deposit waste from the vehicle.
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