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Building a More Sustainable Hong Kong

Hong Kong, which is located on China’s southern coast, is one of the most densely-populated places in the world. 

In recent years, Hong Kong has sought to address concerns about pollution and climate change. Located on the southern coast of China, the city is a densely-populated place. More than 7.4 million people live in an area of about 426 square miles. The amount of waste produced has been growing each year.

City officials hope that Hong Kong, which is rich in history, can use its reputation for innovation to create a greener future. A new program, known as the Muncipal Solid Waste (MSW) charging system, is slated to take effect on August 1.

The goal is to “reduce Hong Kong’s waste,” said Wong Kam Sing, former secretary of the environment. Already, the start date of the ambitious project has been delayed several times. 

The city will charge fees based on the amount of garbage a business or household produces. Officials hope that residents will use fewer resources when they see that waste has a cost. Less waste will mean less pollution and reduce the burden on landfills.

Starting on August 1, everyone will be required to use designated green garbage bags, which can be purchased in shops across the city.


“The government has to balance helping the environment with ensuring that everyone the resources to pay for it,” Eunice Yung, a legislative councilmember, told Valerie during a video interview. 


The new charging system presents an opportunity for Hong Kong to make significant progress in waste reduction. But several challenges need to be addressed. These include the ability of economically-disadvantaged people to pay and logistical challenges.

Eunice Yung, a legislative councilmember in the city, discussed these challenges in a recent interview via video. “The government has to balance helping the environment with ensuring that everyone has the resources to pay for it,” she said.

Yang added that raising awareness about the program is key to success. “The government has to put more resources into education, especially for older people,” she said.

Currently, information about the new charging system isn’t widely available online. This concerns many residents, including Carolina Li. “There needs to be way more information so that we know what to do,” Li told me. “For example, a simple video introducing the MSW charging system would be great.” 

Still, Li and Yung are optimistic that the new program will help provide a greener, more sustainable Hong Kong. "The proposed system, Li said, “has great potential to reduce waste.” 

Top photo: © pa_YON / Getty Images; bottom photo courtesy of the author