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Waste

Sustainable Use of Resources Five-pronged Approach

This section aims to provide detailed information on waste generation, reduction and management in Hong Kong. An overview is given below for the quick reference. Detailed information is organised into various categories, namely,Problems & Solutions, Data & Statistics, Public Consultation, Study Reports, Guidelines & References, Waste Reduction Programmes, Waste Collectors & Recyclers and Waste Management Facilities which can be accessed through the menu.

AN OVERVIEW ON CHALLENGES FOR WASTE REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT IN HONG KONG

WASTE BY TYPE

Hong Kong generates several different types of waste, and each has its own requirements for handling. The EPD keeps regular statistics on each waste type, such as composition, quantity sent for disposal and quantity recycled.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) comprises solid waste from households, commercial and industrial sources. This excludes construction and demolition waste, chemical waste and other special waste. MSW is disposed of at landfills.

Food waste is the major constituent of the municipal solid waste in Hong Kong. It comprises waste produced during food production, processing, wholesale, retail and preparation, as well as after meal leftovers and expired foods. It is highly degradable which can easily cause odour and hygiene problems.

Construction waste includes waste arising from such activities as construction, renovation, demolition, land excavation and road works. Ideally, the waste is separated and inert material is used as fill in reclamation sites, when available. However, a significant portion of the waste still goes to landfills.

Chemical waste comprises substances specified under the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation as posing a possible risk to health and/or the environment.

Clinical waste consists of waste generated from various healthcare, laboratory and research practices as defined in Section 2 and Schedule 8 of the Waste Disposal Ordinance. It should be managed properly so as to minimize danger to public health or risk of pollution to the environment.

Special wastes include animal carcasses, livestock waste, radioactive waste, grease trap waste and waterworks/sewage sludges. These wastes need to be treated separately. Arrangements are being developed for the proper treatment and disposal of these wastes, but more time is needed to address community concerns about such facilities.

Other solid waste comprises dredged mud and excavated materials disposed of at marine disposal sites.

THE CHALLENGES

Waste is a common problem of affluent societies. Especially when people can afford greater convenience and more purchases, they tend to throw away more rubbish. Hong Kong is no exception to this.

Growing Wasteloads

PhotoHong Kong, like many developed places, has seen its wasteloads grow as its economy has grown. Municipal wasteloads have in general been increasing since 1986 - when the EPD was formed - mirroring Hong Kong's rapid economic expansion over the same period. At the same time, the population has grown by more than one million people and each person is throwing away more waste. In 2008, the per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste was 1.35 kilogrammes per day.

Municipal solid waste includes waste from households, industry and commercial operations, but landfills are also under tremendous pressure from construction waste.In 2006, the Government introduced the construction waste disposal charging scheme and the quantity of construction waste disposed of at landfills deceased from 6,560 tonnes per day in 2005 to 2,660 tonnes per day in 2008. This figure fluctuates depending on the economic situation and the number of construction projects underway.

Outlook
The continued growth in wasteloads means Hong Kong is running out of landfill space far earlier than expected, and the existing landfills will be exhausted one by one by 2020 if waste levels continue to increase at current levels. Unless solutions are identified immediately, we could face a crisis in the next decade of having nowhere to put the thousands of tonnes of waste thrown away each day.

New landfill sites must be identified. However, the community has become more resistant to having waste facilities near their neighbourhoods. The government have already started to consult the public on the options.

Landfill space should also be conserved by state-of-the-art technologies that reduce the bulk volume of waste requiring disposal. After extensive review, the EPD is now planning to develop the Integrated Waste Management Facilities that would adopt advanced incineration as core technology to reduce bulk waste volume and to recover energy. Organic Waste Treatment Facilities are also being planned to recycle source-separated organic waste to useful products.

Cost is always a consideration. It has cost nearly $6 billion to build our three strategic landfills, and the operating cost of the three landfills is around $400 million per year. Some 4.9 million tonnes of waste were landfilled in 2008.

For detailed information on waste generation, please refer to Data & Statistics.

Waste recycling in housing estate
Waste recycling in housing estate


WASTE REDUCTION

Waste reduction is often associated with recycling, but it is more complex than that. Avoiding the generation of waste in the first place and minimising waste are also crucial measures in any waste reduction strategy.

Image of Waste Reduction Framework Plan posterIn 1998, the Government unveiled the Waste Reduction Framework Plan (WRFP), which sets out the various initiatives for waste reduction. The progress of the Plan was reviewed in 2001. It is found that although we have made some progress in the overall waste recovery rate, there is still room for improvement in different aspects in waste reduction and domestic waste recovery. The review recommends a series of measures to facilitate domestic waste separation and recovery in Hong Kong. The review also sets the following targets: (i) to raise the overall MSW waste recovery rate from 34% to 36% in 2004 and 40% in 2007; and (ii) to raise the domestic waste recovery rate from 8% to 14% in 2004 and 20% in 2007. The construction industry is also a major target and the aim is to reduce construction and demolition waste going to landfills by 25 per cent between 1999 and 2004.

The Government has been working towards delivery of the targets set out in the WRFP. We are committed to reviewing the WRFP, and since we are approaching the end of the planning horizon of the WRFP, the Government has to formulate a new strategy. We recognise that the growing waste management problem requires continued effort both by the Government and the community at large. Separately, the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC) conducted an engagement process on three pilot areas, one of which is solid waste management, and published its report with recommendations on the engagement process in February 2005. In response to the SDC's recommendations, the Government published a first sustainable development strategy in May 2005. The Environmental Affairs Panel of the Legislative Council (LegCo) discussed in depth the waste management strategy on 28 February 2005 and 23 May 2005. On 5 July 2005, the EAP passed a motion to urge the Administration to include a holistic and comprehensive plan, targets and timeframes for measures in the upcoming strategy document on MSW management.

Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid WasteTaking into account the recommendations of the SDC's report and the views expressed by the EAP of the LegCo, the EPD published "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste in Hong Kong (2005-2014)" (the Policy Framework) in December 2005. The Policy Framework sets out the strategy and measures to address the MSW problem in Hong Kong in the next decade. The main vein of the strategy is to implement the polluter-pays principle through MSW charging and producer responsibility schemes (PRSs). The Policy Framework proposes simple, yet effective, economic tools that would create incentives for the community to recycle more and discard less. The public is sincerely invited to support the measures and milestones set out in the Policy Framework.

In May 2007, the EPD announced a proposal on an environmental levy on plastic shopping bags to reduce their indiscriminate use. For details, please click here.

 

The Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) has allocated $10 million to support a public education programme under the Policy Framework. Interested parties may refer to relevant webpage for more details.

WASTE MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSAL

The EPD manages facilities for collecting, transferring, treating and disposing of a variety of waste types. Since 1989, the department has overseen the establishment of a Chemical Waste Treatment Centre, three strategic landfills and a network of refuse transfer stations. It has also phased out older, environmentally-unacceptable landfills, restored them to a safe condition and is in the process of developing them for different recreational uses, such as football pitches and golf courses.

Map of Waste Disposal Plan

These waste facilities were built under the Waste Disposal Plan and cost more than $10 billion in total to build. The landfills initially were intended to last until 2020, but they could be full several years earlier if nothing is done to reduce wasteloads.

Waste is also managed through legislations. The Waste Disposal Ordinance is used to enforce controls on waste disposal, including collection and disposal and the import and export of waste. The Dumping at Sea Ordinance is enforced to control disposal of dredged mud and excavated materials at designated marine disposal sites. Livestock Waste Control Scheme has been fully implemented in the management and disposal of livestock waste.

The details of different types of waste management facilities are listed as follows :

  • Photo of strategic landfillsThree strategic landfills are located in the New Territories (Nim Wan, Tseung Kwan O and Ta Kwu Ling). Liners, leachate collection and treatment systems, landfill gas management systems, and surface and ground water management systems are in place to control air and water impacts.
     
  • Thirteen closed landfills in Hong Kong are being restored to minimise potential safety and health risks. They are landscaped to provide green zones and can be developed into different public recreational uses such as golf driving ranges and courses, multi-purpose grass pitches, recreational parks and ecological park.
     
  • Seven refuse transfer stations are located in different areas in Hong Kong. These are centralised collection points for the transfer of waste to the strategic landfills. The waste from smaller refuse collection trucks is compacted and transferred into containers, which are loaded onto lorries or barges for shipment to landfills. The wastewater, odours and emissions from the stations are all controlled.
     
  • Photo of Chemical Waste Treatment Centre Facility on Tsing Yi  IslandThe Chemical Waste Treatment Centre on Tsing Yi Island opened in 1993. It accepts a variety of chemical wastes and also clinical waste commencing 1 August 2011. It has extensive controls on its emissions which are regularly monitored by the EPD.
     
  • The Sha Ling Composting Plant in the northern New Territories opened in 1991 and accepts livestock waste. The waste is composted into soil conditioner for use in Hong Kong.

For further information on the impacts of these operations, see the EPD's Environmental Performance Report.

For detailed information on waste management and disposal, please refer to Problems & Solution.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
posterIndividuals can reduce their waste by buying items with less packaging, using reusable bags for shopping, and separating waste paper, metals and plastics from our daily waste for recycling. For more tips on environmental protection, please refer to Tips to Save the Earth.

Businesses can refer to the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence which encourages the private sector to organise their own waste reduction activities. The EPD also offers industry-specific information on waste reduction and outlets for recyclable materials. Please refer to Waste Reduction under Problems & Solutions for details.

Factories, trades, farmers and others also can refer to Guidelines & References for information on the legal requirements for disposing of waste.

Additionally, the EPD launched a territory-wide Programme on Source Separation of Domestic Waste in Januray 2005 which encourages housing estates/buildings to set up waste separation facilities on building floors and broaden the types of recyclables to be recovered, so as to increase domestic waste recovery and reduce waste requiring disposal. For more details, please click here or dial the Recycling Helpline (2838 3111).

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, 13 February, 2014