The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was first established in 1986. To enable EPD to play a more efficient role and concentrate on the environmental protection work, the Environment Branch of the then Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, which was responsible for environmental policy making, merged with the EPD on 1 April 2005. The head of the Environment Branch took up the dual role of Permanent Secretary for the Environment and Director of Environmental Protection. This development has placed the EPD in the position of both determining and implementing environmental policies. Subsequent to the re-organisation of government bureaux on 1 July 2007, a new Environment Bureau was formed overseeing the formulation and implementation of policies on environmental protection, conservation, energy and sustainable development, etc. The Permanent Secretary for the Environment under the Secretary for the Environment is also the Director of Environmental Protection.
There are 11 Divisions within the Department
- Environmental Assessment Division – responsible for reviewing the environmental implications of policies and strategic/local plans, and administering the application of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance. This Division is also responsible for policy formulation, strategic planning and programme development in the area of EIA and environmental noise management.
- Environmental Compliance Division – responsible for enforcing pollution laws and facilitating business not only to comply with environmental requirements but also going beyond compliance.
- Water Policy Division – responsible for policy formulation, strategic planning and programme development in the area of water quality management. This includes policy in relation to sewage treatment, and strategic planning for sewerage infrastructure and sewage treatment facilities which are implemented by the Drainage Services Department for meeting development needs.
- Waste Management Policy Division – responsible for policy formulation, strategic planning and programme development in the field of waste management. This includes introducing the Producer Responsibility Schemes and developing Community Green Station projects.
- Waste Management (Special Duties) Division – responsible for developing policies, strategies, legislative proposals, management and public engagement programmes for the implementation of municipal solid waste charging, and the policies on construction waste management.
- Nature Conservation and Infrastructure Planning Division – responsible for the formulation of nature conservation policy, the development of the Integrated Waste Management Facilities, and also the development of the Organic Resources Recovery Centres, as well as the implementation of food waste reduction programmes. Implementation of nature conservation policy rests with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
- Environmental Infrastructure Division – responsible for planning, developing and operating waste management facilities, such as strategic landfills, refuse transfer stations, restored landfills, a chemical waste treatment centre, and the sludge treatment facility, etc.
- Waste Reduction and Recycling Division – responsible for co-ordinating analysis and formulation of waste reduction and recycling policy, and implementing waste reduction programmes and strengthened measures to promote sustainable development of the recycling industry.
- Air Policy Division – responsible for policy formulation, strategic planning and programme development in the field of air quality management.
- Cross-Boundary and International Division – serving as a focal point for liaison with Mainland and overseas authorities on environmental issues of mutual concern, and local implementation of Stockholm Convention and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Corporate Affairs Division – responsible for the departmental administration support, accounting, resources management, human resources management (HRM), information technology and knowledge management, and also provides support to HRM reforms and corporate development.
As at 31 December 2016, the department had an establishment of 1884 staff. Of this, 30.57% are professionals, 44.16% are technical grade staff and the remaining 25.27% are administrative and other support staff. The changes in size of the establishment in the department over the years are shown in the figure below:
Merger of the Environment Branch and the Environmental Protection Department (23 Sept 2004)
Government Secretariat : Environment, Transport and Works Bureau (Environment Branch) and Environmental Protection Department [EC(2004-05)10] (17 Nov 2004)
Re-organisation of Policy Bureaux of the Government Secretariat : Changes in Civil Service Organisation Structure (11 May 2007)