HK considers mandatory scheme on waste electronic equipment disposal

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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government issued a consultation document Monday to seek public views on implementing a mandatory scheme on the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

The mandatory producer responsibility scheme proposed by the Environment Bureau of the HKSAR government would require consumers to contribute to the costs of collecting and treating the regulated products. Second-hand dealers and recyclers would properly dispose of the regulated waste equipment collected from consumers.

Under the proposal, importers, distributors and retailers would ensure that the regulated products were sold with specified labels. Retailers would take back the old equipment free of charge when an equivalent new product is bought.

The Environment Bureau said the scheme will cover bulky electrical and electronic products including television sets, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, and computer products such as personal computers, laptops, printers, monitors and scanners.

The proposed scheme will not cover telecom equipment like handsets.

Secretary for Environment Edward Yau said it has been an international trend to introduce mandatory producer responsibility schemes to encourage the proper disposal and management of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

"We could on the one hand avoid the negative impact that waste electrical and electronic equipment might bring about on the environment and on the other hand promote the recycling of waste and the reuse and recovery of useful materials," he said.

Hong Kong generates around 70,000 tons of waste electrical and electronic equipment each year and the volume has been increasing at the rate of 2 percent annually in recent years.

The HKSAR Legislative Council enacted the Product Eco- responsibility Ordinance in mid-2008 to provide a legal framework for implementing mandatory producer responsibility schemes for various products. An environmental levy has been introduced for plastic shopping bags.

The consultation will last for around three months until April 30.

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