The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is preparing for full implementation of the Producer Responsibility Scheme on glass beverage containers (GPRS). The key measures of the GPRS include:
- Appointing Glass Management Contractors through open tender to provide waste glass container collection and treatment services for Hong Kong Island (including Islands District), Kowloon and the New Territories regions respectively;
- In line with the “polluter pays” principle, collecting a container recycling levy from manufacturers and importers for glass-bottled beverages that they distribute or consume in Hong Kong to recover the full cost of operating the GPRS; and
- Introducing licence control on the disposal of waste glass containers and permit control on their import and export to ensure waste glass containers are processed in an environmentally sound manner.
Scope of Regulation
The Legislative Council (LegCo) enacted in June 2016 the Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Product Container) (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 to provide for the statutory regulatory framework for the GPRS, which amended the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance (Cap. 603) and the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap. 354). The relevant subsidiary legislation, namely the Product Eco-responsibility (Regulated Articles) Regulation (Cap. 603C), was submitted to the LegCo for scrutiny in June 2022 and approved by the LegCo in November 2022 to provide for the operational details of the GPRS.
The GPRS covers beverages that are carried in sealed glass containers, including ready-to-serve drinks (e.g. alcoholic drink, water, soft drink, juice, coffee, tea, soybean and dairy-based drink) and concentrated instant drinks (e.g. concentrated juice, fruit vinegar and grapefruit honey).
According to the requirements of the GPRS, suppliers must first register with the EPD as registered suppliers before distributing any glass-bottled beverages in Hong Kong that are subject to the scheme. Suppliers under the GPRS mean the local manufacturers and importers of the glass-bottled beverages, but do not include (i) retailers or wholesalers with no business involvement in manufacturing or importing the beverages; (ii) exporters or re-exporters who do not distribute the beverages in Hong Kong; and (iii) persons who only provide logistics services.
After the full implementation of the GPRS on 1 May 2023, registered suppliers must fulfill their statutory responsibilities, including:
- Submit periodical returns on the glass-bottled beverages that they distributed or consumed in Hong Kong;
- Pay relevant container recycling levy;
- Submit annual audit report to ensure accuracy of the information in the returns; and
- Keep records relating to the returns.
Beverage manufacturers with self-arrangement for recovery and reuse of their own glass beverage containers in place and meeting certain criteria, may apply to the EPD for exemption from some of the obligations including payment of container recycling levy.
In addition, any person who stores, treats, reprocesses or recycles glass container waste must obtain a waste disposal licence, and any person who imports into or exports from Hong Kong such waste must obtain the relevant import/export permit.
The GPRS is being implemented in phases in the first half of 2023. The EPD started accepting applications for supplier registration, levy exemption and container waste disposal licence on 1 February 2023, and will implement the GPRS fully on 1 May 2023.
The EPD holds briefings in the first quarter of 2023 for the relevant suppliers to enable them to better understand their statutory obligations and assist the trade in applying for registration as registered suppliers.
For details of the applications for supplier registration, levy exemption and container waste disposal licence, please click the respective links below:
Application for registration as a registered supplier
Application for levy exemption
Application for container waste disposal licence
If you want to participate in glass container recycling, please click the link below: