Glass containers are widely used in our everyday life. Hong Kong generates about 100,000 tonnes of waste glass containers a year. Due to their low recycling value and high collection and logistics costs, in the past majority of the waste glass containers generated in Hong Kong were disposed of at landfills. However, waste glass containers are often recycled and reused elsewhere in the world. After treatment, they can be turned into building materials, concrete and paving materials, in place of river sand and other natural materials. EPD is preparing for implementation of the Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) on glass beverage containers to better promote the recycling of waste glass containers, turning them into resources.
Producer Responsibility Scheme on Glass Beverage Containers
Enshrining the principle of “polluter pays” and the element of “eco-responsibility”, the PRS concept requires manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to share the responsibility for the collection, recycling, treatment and disposal of end-of-life products. The introduction of the PRS on glass beverage containers helps organize the concerned parties to share their eco-responsibility and thus establishing a circular economy for waste glass containers, turning them into resources.
Scope of Regulation
To provide for the statutory regulatory framework, the Legislative Council approved in May 2016 the Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Product Container) (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 to amend the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance (Cap. 603) and the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap. 354). EPD is now working on the necessary subsidiary legislation to set out the operation details for the implementation of the PRS for submission to LegCo for scrutiny.
When the amendment comes into effect, any manufacturer and importer who carries on a business of distributing a glass-bottled beverage product will be required to:
ü register as a registered supplier;
ü submit periodical returns to EPD about the litre-volume of glass-bottled beverage product distributed or consumed in the local market and keep relevant records;
ü pay container recycling levy; and
ü submit annual audit report.
In line with the “polluter pays” principle, the container recycling levy will be set at such a level to recover the full cost of running the PRS on glass beverage containers, including the expenditure on collection and treatment services provided by Government-appointed contractors, as well as other related administrative expenses.
In addition, any person who stores, treats, reprocesses or recycles container waste is required to obtain a waste disposal license; the import and export of container waste is subject to permit control.
Through open tender, the Government has appointed Glass Management Contractors (GMCs) to provide convenient and efficient regional collection and treatment services for waste glass containers. The two contracts for Hong Kong Island (including Islands District) and the New Territories regions commenced in November 2017 while that for the Kowloon region commenced in May 2018. Under the contract, a GMC is required to:
ü establish within its catchment region a network of collection points to facilitate collection of glass containers generated from commercial and industrial establishments such as pubs and food premises;
ü provide glass container collection services to residential buildings and estates in the catchment region in collaboration with the Community Green Stations of the districts where established;
ü arrange gainful reuse and recycling of the waste glass containers, including recovery for proper treatment turning them into reusable materials (e.g. as construction materials) or for re-bottling; and
ü operate a participation incentive scheme to encourage the public to return properly rinsed waste glass containers to contractor for recycling.
The EPD launched the Glass Container Recycling Charter in January 2019 inviting the community to join hand in promoting glass container recycling paving way for the full implementation of the PRS on glass beverage containers.
How to participate in glass bottle recycling?
The GMCs are required to set up within their catchment regions a network of collection points for glass bottles serving commercial and industrial establishments such as pubs and food premises, as well as residential buildings and estates in the catchment regions. The collection services provided by the GMCs are free of charge. Parties interested in setting up glass bottle collection points may approach the respective GMCs of their regions for the collection services required. For contact details of the GMCs, please click here.
For the general public, please look for the following glass bottle recycling bins that are placed in residential estates, Government buildings and venues, etc.
To implement glass bottle recycling in housing estates effectively needs support and cooperation of the concerned parties, in particular the property management office in managing the glass bottle recycling bins properly. To this end, EPD has prepared the “Guidelines for Glass Container Recycling in Housing Estates” and “Glass Container Recycling in Housing Estates - Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders”, to provide guidance to the relevant stakeholders on the operation arrangement and their roles and responsibilities in glass bottle recycling to jointly promote the good recycling practices.
Tips for glass bottle recycling
Ensure your glass beverage (or food and sauce) bottles are properly clean before recycling them. Remember these 4 simple steps –
(i) remove cap;
(ii) empty content;
(iii) rinse; and
(iv) place in the recycling bin gently.
Where would the glass bottles go?
Currently, glass bottles recovered locally are, after treatment, used for producing eco-pavers, exported for recycling or used as fill materials in local reclamation or site formation works. On the other hand, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) has drawn up the technical specifications for application of recycled glass cullet as fill materials and commenced to absorb recycled glass materials in some selected public works. We envisage that glass materials locally recovered can be fully absorbed through these outlets. Meanwhile, we have also encouraged the GMCs to proactively explore more outlets for recovered glass materials, such as using them as raw materials for producing eco-cement and decorative tiles.
Text of Legislation
Legislative Council Papers
Legislative Council Brief -
Panel on Environmental Affairs (Papers)
Announcement in the Public Interest (API)
It's a Glass Bottle Recycling Bin! Don’t Get It Mixed Up!
(A) Glass Bottle Recycling