Disposal licensing control, import and export control and disposal bans at designated waste disposal facilities of e-waste (abandoned regulated electrical equipment (REE) including waste air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and monitors) under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) has come into effect on 31 December 2018. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) issued two press releases on 3 December and 24 December 2018 to remind relevant practitioners in the recycling industry and second-hand shops to make preparations to avoid contravention of the law. Please click here for the full text of the press releases.

Starting from 31 December 2018, landfills and other designated waste disposal facilities (such as refuse transfer stations) no longer accept and handle e-waste. Unless with exemptions, any person who is engaged in the storage, treatment, reprocessing or recycliPage 3 of 6ng (but not repair) of e-waste must obtain a waste disposal licence (e-WDL) issued by the EPD under the law. A permit issued by the EPD is also required for the import and export of e-waste.

The Legislative Council passed the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2023 on 18 October 2023 for enhancing the Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WPRS). The enhanced WPRS will have the scope expanded and will take effect on 1 July 2024. Please click here for the full text of the press release.

The expanded scope of WPRS will cover the following new regulated electrical equipment (REE):

(i) refrigerators with rated storage volume up to 900 litres;
(ii) washing machine with rated washing capacity up to 15 kg;
(iii) stand-alone tumble dryers;
(iv) dehumidifiers

Under the enhanced WPRS, the e-waste disposal licence has been open for application. Please click here for the application details for the licence.

As the recycling industry (including so-called "scrap dealers" or second-hand shops) might need to undertake certain small-scale or simple pre-treatment processes to help facilitate the reuse of electrical and electronic appliances, or assist licensed recyclers to treat e-waste, there are legal provisions to exempt the following operations from obtaining waste disposal licence:

(1) disposal of e-waste (that is not chemical waste) on land or premises with an area of not more than 100 m2;

(2) storage of e-waste with a total volume of not more than 50 m3; or

(3) storage of e-waste on premises located inside a multi-storey building.

The above operations must still abide by all other environmental legislation and other applicable legislation. The EPD will step up inspections and take enforcement actions against non-compliant operations. Under the WDO, any person involved in the disposal (including storage) of e-waste without a licence, or the import or export of e-waste without a permit, is liable to a fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment upon first conviction.

The EPD also appeals to those involved in the resale of second-hand REE to properly inspect and repair such appliances, and to ensure that they are operable and label them. Such appliances should also be properly packaged to avoid damage during storage or transportation. For details on how to distinguish between e-waste and second-hand REE, please click here for details.

For details of the relevant licensing and permit control, please click here