About 70,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are generated in Hong Kong annually, most of which were exported in the past for reuse or recovery of valuable materials. However, the reliance on export in handling locally generated WEEE may not be sustainable in the long run because demand for second-hand products in markets outside Hong Kong will decline over time with progressive economic development and tightening of import control over WEEE in other jurisdictions.
On the basis of the community's feedback received during a public consultation conducted in 2010, the Government has been preparing for the introduction of a producer responsibility scheme (PRS) to facilitate the proper treatment of WEEE in Hong Kong, as committed under Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 issued in May 2013.
The enabling legislation for the PRS on WEEE (WPRS), namely the Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Electrical Equipment and Electronic Equipment) (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 was passed by the Legislative Council in March 2016, whereas the Product Eco-Responsibility (Regulated Electrical Equipment) Regulation providing for certain operational matters relating to suppliers and sellers of regulated electrical equipment (REE), was enacted in July 2017.
The WPRS has been fully implemented in 2018 –
- From 1 August 2018, a supplier of REE must have been registered with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) before distributing REE. Registered suppliers must also fulfil other statutory obligations, including the submission of returns to the EPD and payment of recycling levies, as well as providing recycling labels when distributing REE.
- From 1 August 2018, a seller must have a removal service plan endorsed by the EPD for selling REE. When a seller sells REE and if requested by the consumer, the seller should arrange for the consumer a free removal service to dispose of the same class of equipment abandoned by the consumer in accordance with the endorsed plan. The seller must also provide recycling labels to consumers purchasing REE, and a receipt containing the prescribed wording on the recycling levies.
- The disposal licensing control, import and export permit control and landfill disposal ban in respect of abandoned REE will commence on 31 December 2018. By then, any person who is engaged in the storage, treatment, reprocessing or recycling of abandoned REE must obtain a waste disposal licence; a permit will be required for the import and export of abandoned REE; and abandoned REE will no longer be accepted for disposal at the landfills and other designated waste disposal facilities (e.g. refuse transfer stations).