E-waste fee detrimental to HK computer shops?

The Hong Kong government proposed that every time someone buys a new computer, a corresponding fee used to handle electronic waste will be collected. This means that once the proposal is approved, I’ll need to pay an extra amount of money. If I take out the “e-waste fee” label, that increment will be similar to a price increase or sales tax, something that’s unheard of in Hong Kong.

E-waste fee came about as a response to a growing trend of people replacing electronic products frequently, accelerating the dumping of older models. But its introduction, while understandable, has many pitfalls that need to be addressed.

This causes alarm to computer stores which claim to have a very low profit margin. As many shops allow installment payments of zero interest to attract customers, it is possible that a buyer refuses to pay the e-waste fee in full.

But the move should hurt the buyers more than it hurts the computer sellers. I think the proposal is inconsistent and assumes that buyers of computers in Hong Kong are people who live in Hong Kong or at least use their PCs or Macs in the city. At the same time, this fee applies to all buyers of new computers – both short-term and long-term users. If I use my machine for the next 10 years, I will still be charged no matter if I only dump my machine once within the decade.

The Internet Professional Association has been sounding the alarm in defense of the computer shops. But it is also proactive enough to present options for the government to consider. I support imposing the fee on the other end of the chain. Is it possible that the fee be collected from consumers when they dispose of electronic waste? Surely, this will generate uproar among frequent buyers, especially when the devices they throw out are not destined for the dumpster but to second-hand users or second generation enterprises involved in recycling these products.

What about providing tax incentive to consumers who send their old electronic goods to a non-profit enterprises supported by the government to prevent illegal dumping? While the floor is open for deliberation, let’s put on our ideas and make this a worthwhile initiative to eventually help preserve the environment.