The Legislative Council on Friday revived previously-halted discussions on a proposed waste disposal levy – almost four months after councillors decided to halt work on the bill as time ran short on their term.
The legislation would force households and businesses to pay for the rubbish they throw out – either by purchasing dedicated garbage bags, or make direct payments according to the weight of the trash they throw out at disposal facilities.
There was cross-party support to resume efforts on passing the needed law as Legco’s House Committee set up a new bills committee on Friday, though views were mixed on how the new panel should approach its work.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung said the committee should pick things up from where the previous group left off, but pro-government lawmaker Shiu Ka-fai said the vetting should start from square one.
When the previous committee decided to abandon the initiative in June, they had no idea that Beijing would end up extending the term of the legislature by at least one year to allow the Hong Kong government to postpone Legco elections to 2021.
Green groups have been calling for the legislature to bring the bills committee back, saying the proposed waste levy is needed to address Hong Kong’s overflowing landfills.
Representatives of six environmental groups, including the Green Earth and Greenpeace, held a rally outside Legco ahead of the House Committee meeting to urge legislators to resume work on the issue.
Paul Zimmerman of Designing Hong Kong said introducing waste charges would motivate people to become more friendly to the environment.
"It puts in the right incentive for the consumer to separate [waste] and for the recycling industry to develop, so it's critical that it gets passed," he said.
"It's very important [that the bill gets passed] this year, because if we don't do it this year, then Legco will go for a new election, then [there’ll be a change in government]. Our estimate is if they don't pass it now, it's going to be delayed for three to five years."