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Advisory Council on the Environment

Waste Paper Recycling
 

(ACE Paper 56/98)
for information

Background

Within the past 2-3 weeks there has been growing concern about the viability of the waste paper recycling industry, in particular, following the closure of the Concordia waste paper mill.

Recent Developments

The Legislative Council Environmental Affairs Panel met on 8 December 1998 to discuss the Waste Reduction Framework Plan. Representatives of the waste paper and waste metal industries also attended, as well as the Administration.

A meeting was held on Wednesday 9 December 1998 between the Administration and the waste paper recycling trade's representatives. The Administration was represented by Mr Steve Barclay PAS/E2 of Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau and Mr Benny Wong, Assistant Director (Waste Facilities) of the Environmental Protection Department.

About 50 persons from the waste paper recycling trade attended the meeting. The majority of those attending were represented under the umbrella of either the Hong Kong Wastepaper Trade Association (representing exporters) or the Environmental Recyclers Association (representing collectors). In addition the Futuresafe paper mill's management was represented. There was one individual, working in both the paper and metal recycling field, who represented himself.

The Chairman (Mr Barclay) acknowledged that some written submissions had already been submitted, directly or indirectly to Government. He invited the paper recycling industry's representatives to briefly explain these, for the benefit of others attending, as well as to make any additional points verbally. The Chairman requested that these be put in writing in due course to ensure that an accurate record was maintained. In response, the recycling trade representatives explained the difficulties the industry was facing and listed their demands for assistance. In brief, the demands can be summarised as follows: -
 

a) interest-free or low interest loans
b) stopping import of waste paper
c) providing free/cheap land
d) waiving charges/fees at cargo handling areas
e) introduce waste paper recovery schemes
f) lower fees charged for inspection of waste shipped to the mainland
g) direct subsidy of $200 per tonne of waste paper
h) policy support to help the recycling industry
i) reduce diesel duty and vehicle licensing fees
j) tax and fiscal concessions
k) establish a fund to support market prices of paper
l) preference be given from the fund to support SMEs
m) provide more paper collection bins

The Chairman -
 

a) explained that it was Government's policy not to provide direct subsidies to the recycling industry, but that we would consider proposals for indirect assistance that were practical and fair to all sectors of the industry;
b) said many of the proposals for indirect assistance involved other bureaux/departments who would need to be consulted;
c) noted that some of the proposals affected other private companies and Government was very reluctant to intervene in the commercial relations between private businesses;
d) suggested that a further meeting be held at the end of the following week (i.e. 17/18 December 1998) to further consider details of indirect assistance.

The paper recycler's representatives expressed disappointment at the apparent lack of progress. Nonetheless, the Administration found the meeting to be very useful in that we were able to meet the personalities involved face-to-face and get a much clearer picture of their demands and the weight they placed on them. The meeting ended with the Chairman repeating the invitation to meet again to discuss indirect assistance.

The Way Forward

PELB has circulated the recycler's demands to relevant bureaux/departments requesting an early, initial reaction in anticipation of the meeting on 17/18 December 1998. We shall be contacting the recyclers representatives again to arrange another meeting, and, we will continue to monitor the situation.

Members will be given an up-date of developments verbally at the meeting on 14 December 1998.




 

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
October 1998


 

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