“Polluters or Stakeholders, Who Should Pay?” Development of a More Effective Waste Charging Scheme in Hong Kong using System Dynamics

Department: Real Estate and Construction
Research Centre: iLab
Active Dates: October 2011 - December 2013

Principal Investigator: Wilson W.S. LU
Funding body: PPR

Abstract

Amongst the many construction waste management (CWM) policies, the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme (CWDSC) enacted in 2006 has the largest magnitude in terms of genuinely reducing construction waste disposal of at landfills. This strengthens the belief that “attempts to significantly reduce waste generation would not be possible in the absence of major economic incentives to drive the requisite behavioral change” (HKEPD, 2012). Nevertheless, CWM remains a gloomy situation after the CWDCS was successfully implemented in Hong Kong. With the changing socio-economic background in Hong Kong, there is an acute need for Hong Kong to become a self-sustainable place for managing its construction waste. Raising the existing levels of waste disposal charging is high on the Government’s agenda. This project investigated how much stakeholders are willing to pay for enhancing CWM in Hong Kong. The research will provide a scientific foundation to the heated on-going debate on revisiting the construction waste disposal charges in Hong Kong.

Objectives

  1. To identify stakeholders in construction waste management.
  2. To analyse stakeholders’ interests, attitudes, and interactions in construction.
  3. To construct a system dynamics (SD) model for simulating stakeholders’ interests, attitudes, and interactions under different waste charging schemes.
  4. To validate the SD model and interpret its policy implications in Hong Kong studies.

Results

By considering the dynamic nature of CWM, the research team has examined stakeholders’ interests, attitudes, and interactions using system dynamics (SD). It is found that SD, if applied correctly, is very helpful in determining how much one SHOULD be charged to achieve a pre-set goal of CWM. However, it is difficult to use SD to determine how much one WOULD pay for better managing C&D waste in Hong Kong. The research team thus deviated from previous objectives but to (a) examine the effectiveness of the existing CWDCS, and (b) explore the willingness to pay (WTP) expressed by CWM stakeholders in Hong Kong.

Surprisingly, it is found that, in statistical sense, there is no significant difference between willingness to pay (WTP) expressed by different stakeholder groups. The average maximum WTP is around HK$232 per tonne for C&D waste disposal of at landfills, HK$186/t at off-site sorting facilities (OSFs), and HK$120/t at public fill reception facilities (OFRFs). These are higher than the existing charges (i.e. HK$125/t for landfilling, HK$100/t for OSFs, and HK$27/t for PFRFs) but much lower than the charges proposed by HKGBC and HKBEC to the government Environment Bureau (i.e. HK$125, HK$700 and HK$1,200 per tonne in 2015, 2020 and 2025 respectively). The PI was interviewed by New York Times, and was invited to join the JWG to contribute to CWM policy making directly. The research team has achieved much more than what proposed in the PPR project. 

Outputs
Selected peer-reviewed journal papers

  • Lu, W.S. (2013). Beyond the inert and non-inert dichotomy: towards ‘building a zero waste Hong Kong’. Build Journal, 13, 46-49.
  • Lu, W.S., and Yuan, H. (2013). Investigating waste reduction potential in the upstream processes of offshore prefabrication construction. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 28, 804-811.
  • Lu, W.S., and Tam, V. W. (2013). Construction waste management policies and their effectiveness in Hong Kong: A longitudinal review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 23, 214-223.
  • Yuan, H., Lu, W.S., and Hao, J. J. (2013). The evolution of construction waste sorting on-site. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 20, 483-490.
  • Lu, W., and Yuan, H. (2012). Off-site sorting of construction waste: What can we learn from Hong Kong?. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 69, 100-108.
Figure 1: Typical scenarios of on-site CWSFigure 2: Flowchart of off-site construction waste sorting in Hong KongFigure 3: A causal loop diagram of stakeholders in CWM
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE