Legal controls on polluters have existed for several decades in Hong Kong, but it was not until the EPD was established in 1986 that these controls were strengthened and fully applied. There are now laws to deal with all types of air, noise, water and waste pollution for activities such as construction work, operating restaurants or factories, listening to loud music in your home, raising livestock, driving a motor vehicle or exporting waste. For a full list of the laws, see Environmental Legislation.
These laws encourage operators not to pollute, and to enable offenders to be punished. Penalties generally include fines of up to $5 million and provisions for jail terms.
Enforcement by EPD
The EPD enforces the main anti-pollution laws primarily through its four Regional Offices and Territorial Control Office under the Environmental Compliance Division (ECD) which also carry out inspections and licensing, and respond to complaints. The main laws include Air Pollution Control Ordinance, Noise Control Ordinance, Waste Disposal Ordinance, Water Pollution Control Ordinance, Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, Dumping at Sea Ordinance, Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance, Hazardous Chemicals Control Ordinance and Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance, Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance.
Offenders must be caught in the act and various types of enforcement measures are used to enable this, such as inspections, ambushes and video surveillance. For details of enforcement figures, please see Enforcement Statistics.
The EPD does not view pollution control as simply a matter of cracking down on offenders. It puts much effort on encouraging operators to comply with the law. Partnerships have been initiated with the construction industry, restaurants, vehicle repair workshops and property management sectors to make all concerned stakeholders aware of the laws and offer advice on how to comply. The EPD also has produced a series of compliance guides which offer specific advice to operators on how to comply with the whole range of environmental laws. The EPD also develops links with industry and the community to promote support for anti-pollution work and encourage compliance with environmental laws. For details, please see Compliance Assistance.
Contact with the community is also important. The Regional Offices work with District Councils and other groups on issues of special concern. Please refer to District and Community Liaison for details.
Enforcement by Police
The Police is responsible for responding to complaints about neighbourhood noise and noise in public places. Any complaints should be made directly to the Police by calling on your nearest station.
Enforcement by Other Government Departments
Many other government departments are also responsible for enforcing various environmental legislation. Floating rubbish, aircraft noise, pollution from ships, shipments of non-pesticide hazardous chemicals into/out of Hong Kong and the provision of recycling facilities in new buildings are some of the issues handled by other departments. Please refer to Environmental Legislation for more details.