3 December 2018

Survey findings by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at CUHK on Public Attitudes towards Municipal Solid Waste Charging



In order to minimise the amount of municipal solid waste, the Government has recently proposed a waste-charging scheme. It has submitted a related draft bill to the Legislative Council in mid-November for first and second readings. To gauge public opinions on the waste-charging scheme, a telephone survey was conducted from 19 to 22 November 2018 by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). 713 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 38.9%. The sampling error is estimated at plus or minus 3.67 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. 

Major findings are summarised as follows: 

The survey results showed that 85.0% of the respondents knew that the Government is going to launch the waste-charging scheme. Only 15.0% did not know. 86.4% of the respondents agreed to reduce municipal solid waste in order to ease the burden on landfills, while only 5.9% disagreed. 

The Government recently tabled a waste-charging bill at the Legislative Council to require the citizens to buy designated garbage bags for rubbish; otherwise, they would be fined. While 56.0% of the respondents agreed that the Legislative Council should pass the bill, 33.5% disagreed. 

Although more than 80% of the respondents agreed to reduce municipal solid waste and more than half of them supported the waste-charging bill, many doubted whether the scheme could be implemented properly. As many as 68.2% of the respondents believed that many or quite a lot of people would dump their rubbish sneakily on rear staircases, side streets or back lanes if the bill was passed. Only 19.1% thought that a few or very few people would do so. 

The Government estimated that a family of three would have to pay HK$33 to HK$51 more per month under the charging scheme. While 45.3% of the respondents thought that such level of charging could help reducing the amount of waste in Hong Kong, 39.7% thought the opposite. Although 46.2% of them had great confidence or very great confidence that the scheme could be implemented smoothly, 36.8% only had little or very little confidence in it. In spite of the survey results, when the respondents were asked if waste charging could make Hong Kong more green in the long run and therefore it was worth to launching, 60.5% replied that they agreed or strongly agreed. Only 31.0% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 

With regard to the level of charging, the Government proposed that garbage bags would cost HK$0.11 per litre on average; that is, a 10-litre bag would cost HK$1.1. Although 48.7% of the respondents regarded the fee as appropriate, 35.2% thought that it was too high and only 1.4% thought it was too low. The proposed bill requires that oversized waste that cannot be put in the designated bags had to have labels, which cost HK$11, before disposal. While 45.2% of the respondents thought that the cost of the labels was too high, 38.8% believed that it was appropriate. Only 4.3% regarded it as too low. Concerning the fine of HK$1,500, 48.1% of the respondents regarded it as appropriate, 37.7% thought that it was too high but 6.0% believed that it was too low.