Producer Responsibility Scheme
Mandatory Producer Responsibility Scheme
About 70 000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (“WEEE”) are generated in Hong Kong annually, most of which are exported to other places for reuse or recovery of valuable materials. In recent years, however, there is a growing trend to tighten the trading control over WEEE in the international community, whilst the demand for second-hand products in markets outside Hong Kong will also decline over time with economic development. Hence, the existing practice of placing heavy reliance on export of WEEE is not sustainable and a mechanism for proper treatment and recycling of WEEE will need to be developed. Besides, WEEE contains harmful materials which, if not properly treated or disposed, will be hazardous to the environment and human health. It is necessary for Hong Kong to properly manage the environmental challenges arising from WEEE by implementing a mandatory producer responsibility scheme (“PRS”), in line with the practices of many neighbouring regions.
To provide a legal framework for the mandatory PRS, the Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Electrical Equipment and Electronic Equipment) (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 (“Amendment Ordinance”) was made in March 2016. On this basis, the HKSAR Government is planning to make subsidiary legislation which sets out the details of regulatory requirements.
On the scope, the Amendment Ordinance will regulate the recycling and disposal of regulated electrical equipment (“REE”) which, in gist, is defined to mean any air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and monitors that has not been used by any consumer.
Manufacturers and importers of REE will be required to register as registered suppliers and pay a recycling levy for REE that is distributed in Hong Kong. The Amendment Ordinance also includes the following measures in relation to the collection, recycling and disposal of regulated e-waste (i.e. abandoned REE):
- a seller must arrange, after distribution of REE, a removal service for consumers free of charge so that the old equipment can be delivered to a competent recycler;
- any person who is engaged in the storage, treatment, reprocessing and recycling of regulated e-waste must obtain a waste disposal licence;
- a permit is required for the import and export of regulated e-waste; and
- regulated e-waste will no longer be accepted at landfills for disposal.
To ensure the essential infrastructure is in place for the launch of the mandatory PRS,the HKSAR Government has also obtained funding support from the Legislative Council in February 2015 for the development of a WEEE Treatment and Recycling Facility, and construction works are underway for completion in 2017.