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The Green Life: Hong Kong the Latest to Introduce Trash Metering

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January 11, 2012

Hong Kong the Latest to Introduce Trash Metering

Hong kong landfill barges

The advent of the progressive trash tax is upon us. Hong Kong announced Tuesday a “pay-as-you-throw” plan for garbage disposal — called "trash metering" — as a way to cope with limited landfill space. If the proposal goes through, people will pay taxes based on how much garbage they throw away. There will be a three-month “public-consultation” period before Hong Kong’s Environmental Bureau makes a final decision on the matter.

Trash metering already exists in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, and other countries. Hong Kong’s Secretary of the Environment, Edward Yau, said the program could “prompt the public to change their daily living habits,” referring, quite possibly, to the city’s 2,026 pounds of trash produced per person per year. And Hong Kong has a notorious space problem — 10,031 tons of solid waste get dumped every day into an overflowing landfill system.

The possibility of trash metering in yet another major city could boost the movement in the U.S. The latest EPA report acknowledges more than 7,000 communities that use the system, a number that continues to grow. Under trash metering, citizens recycle and compost more of their waste to save money. It's also a way to decrease waste-management costs in cities that are struggling to foot the bill.

Time will tell whether the greater public can get behind trash metering. But if Hong Kong’s plan is any indication, programs will continue to pop up internationally and the movement toward more effective waste management will continue to gain ground.

--Justin Cohn / image: istock/oksanaphoto

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