Related Legislation


Legislation for the Management of Air Quality

The Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO) is the principal law for managing air quality. Regulations cover specific areas related to air pollution, such as power plant emissions, motor vehicle fuel and emissions, asbestos control, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, construction dust and industrial emissions.

Pollution from motor vehicles is controlled through fuel and emission controls. The permitted sulphur content of motor diesel fuel has been progressively tightened from 0.2 per cent in April 1995 to 0.035 per cent from January 2001. Diesel with a sulphur content of 0.005 per cent became widely available in 2000, and was made mandatory for motor diesel in April 2002. For motor petrol fuel, the sale of leaded petrol was banned from April 1999. The benzene level in petrol was tightened from 5 per cent to not more than 1 per cent, effective from April 2000. The unleaded petrol specifications were tightened to Euro IV level in January 2005 such that its sulphur content was reduced from 0.015% to 0.005%. In December 2007, Euro V diesel, which has a sulphur content of 0.001% was introduced. Since then, all petrol filling stations in Hong Kong are exclusively offering this fuel. Euro V diesel is suitable for all existing diesel vehicles. As compared with Euro IV diesel, fuelling existing diesel vehicles with Euro V diesel can reduce their sulphur dioxide and particulates emissions by 80% and 5% respectively. We have tightened the specifications of motor vehicle diesel and unleaded petrol to Euro V standards in July 2010.

In July 2010, we implemented the regulatory control on motor vehicle biodiesel. The key elements of the regulatory control are (a) a mandatory biodiesel specifications and (b) labelling requirements selling the motor vehicle biodiesel with biodiesel content over 5%.

For motor vehicle emissions, all newly registered vehicles have to comply with stringent emission standards since 1995. They have been progressively tightened to Euro IV emission standard. The Euro IV emission standard was fully implemented starting from January 2007. In 2000, the Government offered incentives to encourage the early replacement of diesel taxis by LPG vehicles. In addition, newly registered taxis are required to use LPG or petrol starting from August 2001. In 2002, the Government offered another incentive scheme to encourage diesel public light buses to switch to LPG or electric light buses. Starting from December 2003, diesel vehicles not more than 4 tonnes first registered before 1 April 1995 are required to be installed with approved emission reduction devices for licence renewal. From 1 April 2007, the requirement is extended to all pre-Euro diesel vehicles.

To reduce the air pollution and environmental nuisances generated by idling engines, we enacted the Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance in 2011. The Ordinance came into operation on 15 December 2011. Under the Ordinance, a driver is prohibited from operating the engine of a stationary vehicle for more than 3 minutes in aggregate in any 60-minute period.

In terms of global obligations, the Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance is regularly reviewed to ensure its effectiveness in implementing the amendments to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. In October and December of 2009, we amended the Schedule to the Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance and the Ozone Layer Protection (Products Containing Scheduled Substances) (Import Banning) Regulation, respectively, in order to meet the requirements of the Beijing Amendment under the Montreal Protocol and of the agreement reached in the Meeting of Parties to Montreal Protocol to accelerate the phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

Electricity generation remains the biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong. It accounts for 92% of SO2, 46% of NOx and 31% of RSP emitted locally in 2009. Under the APCO, power plants are subject to licensing control, under which they are required to use the Best Practicable Means to prevent the emissions from causing air pollution. To minimise the emissions, new generation units proposed from 1997 should be powered by natural gas. Starting from August 2005, emission caps are imposed in the renewed licences of power plants, requiring them to progressively reduce the emission to meet reduction targets for 2010.

To ensure a smooth, timely and transparent implementation of the emission caps for the power sector, the APCO was amended in July 2008 to provide for the stipulation of emission caps for power plants for 2010 and beyond by technical memorandum (TM) and the facilitation of the use of emissions trading as an alternatives means for achieving the emission caps. The first TM promulgated in December 2008 stipulates the total quantities of emission allowances for the three specified pollutants to the power plants for 2010 and beyond and the allocation methodology amongst the power plants. In 2010, we reviewed the operation of the TM and considered that two power companies could further reduce their emissions by maximizing the use of their existing gas-fired generation units and prioritizing the use of coal-fired generation units equipped with emission reduction device. Accordingly, we have promulgated the second TM in December 2010 to further tighten the emission caps of power companies starting 2015. As compared to the first TM, the new emission caps will be further tightened by 34% - 50%.

VOCs play a significant role in the formation of ozone and fine particulates in the atmosphere, which causes smog and reduces visibility. To reduce VOC emissions, the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulation, effective from April 2007 in phases, imposes maximum limits on the VOC content of selected products, and requires emission reduction devices to be installed on lithographic heatset web printing machines.

Environmental Legislation for Air Pollution Control in Effect as at 31 December 2010

Legislation Description of Control
Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap. 311) 1983 Provides for the control of air pollution from stationary sources and motor vehicles. Also enables promulgation of regulations and technical memorandum (as below).
Air Pollution Control (Air Control Zones) (Declaration) (Consolidation) Order 1993 Provides for consolidated declaration of Air Control Zones.
Air Pollution Control (Appeal Board) Regulations 1983 Stipulates the procedures and run down of an appeal.
Air Pollution Control (Asbestos) (Administration) Regulation 1996 Provides for the qualifications and fees for registration of asbestos consultants,contractors, supervisors and laboratories.
Air Pollution Control (Construction Dust) Regulation 1997 Requires contractors to take dust reduction measures when construction work is being carried out.
Air Pollution Control (Dry-cleaning Machines) (Vapour Recovery) Regulation 2001 Requires dry-cleaning machines using perchloroethylene (PCE) as a dry-cleaning agent to be equipped with a vapour recovery system and to meet the stipulated emission standard.
Air Pollution Control (Dust and Grit Emission) Regulations 1974 Stipulates the emission standards, assessment procedures and requirements for particulate emissions from stationary combustion sources.
Air Pollution Control (Emission Reduction Devices for Vehicles) Regulation 2003 and its Amendment Requires pre-Euro diesel vehicles to be retrofitted with approved emission reduction devices for licence renewal.
Air Pollution Control (Fuel Restriction) Regulations 1997 and its Amendment of 2008 Prohibits the use of high sulphur content solid and liquid fuel for commercial and industrial appliances. (In Shatin, only gaseous fuel is allowed.)
Air Pollution Control (Furnaces, Oven and Chimneys) (Installation and Alteration) Regulations 1972 Requires prior approval to ensure suitable design for the installation and alteration of furnaces, ovens and chimneys.
Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) Regulation 1994 and its Amendments Sets out the specifications of liquid motor vehicle fuel to be used in motor vehicles and prohibits the sale of leaded petrol and the regulatory control on motor vehicle biodiesel.
Air Pollution Control (Open Burning) Regulation 1996 Prohibits open burning of construction waste, tyres and cables for metal salvage, and controls other open burning activities by permit system.
Air Pollution Control (Petrol Filling Stations) (Vapour Recovery) Regulation 1999 and its Amendment of 2004 Requires petrol dispensers and petrol storage tanks of petrol filling stations and petrol delivery vehicles to be equipped with effective vapour recovery systems and to observe good practice during petrol unloading and vehicle refuelling.
Air Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulation 1983 Restricts emission of dark smoke from stationary combustion sources.
Air Pollution Control (Specified Processes) Regulations 1987 and its Amendment of 2009 Provides the administrative framework for the licensing of Specified Processes.
Air Pollution Control (Specified Processes) (Removal of Exemption) Order 1993, 1994 and 1996 Removes the exemption granted to the owner of premises for conduct of certain specified processes.
Air Pollution Control (Specified Processes) (Specification of Required Particulars and Information) Order 1993 and 1994 Provides for the supply of information and specifications by owners of certain existing specified processes to the Air Pollution Control Authority.
Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission) Regulations 1992 Sets out the emission standards for newly registered vehicles.
Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulation 2007 and its Amendment of 2009 Imposes limits in phases on the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content of architectural paints/coatings, vehicle refinishing paints/coatings, vessel and pleasure craft paints/coatings, adhesives, sealants, printing inks and six selected consumer products - air fresheners, hairsprays, multi-purpose lubricants, floor wax strippers, insecticides and insect repellents, and requires emission reduction devices to be installed on lithographic heatset web printing machines.
Technical Memorandum for Allocation of Emission Allowances in respect of Specified Licences Stipulates the quantity of emission allowances of three specified pollutants for the power sector for 2010 and beyond; and the allocation methodology of the emission allowances among power plants.
The Second Technical Memorandum for Allocation of Emission Allowances in respect of Specified Licences Further tightens the emission caps of the power sector starting 2015 from the first TM levels by 34% - 50%.
Building (Demolition Works) Regulations (Cap.123) 1962 Regulates building demolition, including prevention of nuisance.
Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance (Cap. 403) 1989 and its amended Schedule of 2009 Gives effect to Hong Kong's international obligations under the 1985 Vienna Convention, the 1987 Montreal Protocol and any amendments to control the manufacture, import and export of ozone depleting substances.
Ozone Layer Protection (Controlled Refrigerants) Regulation 1994 Prohibits the venting to the atmosphere of controlled refrigerants used in large scale refrigeration equipment and motor vehicles.
Ozone Layer Protection (Products Containing Scheduled Substances) (Import Banning) Regulation 1993 and its Amendment of 2009 Prohibits the import of controlled products containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as air-conditioners, portable fire extinguishers, insulation boards and aerosol products containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) such as metered dose inhalers in phases starting from 1 January 2010.
Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) 1960 Makes provision for urban services and public health, including control of nuisance caused by emissions of fumes.
Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) 1984 Regulates road traffic, vehicle and users of roads and related matters; includes provisions to limit pollution from vehicles.
Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations 1984 Specifies emission limits for in-service vehicles.
Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap. 313) 1978 Regulates and controls ports, vessels and navigation, including control of smoke emissions.
Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) 1933 Provides for the control on dropping dirt in a public place, for example from trucks onto a public road.
Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance (Cap. 611) Prohibits drivers from causing or permitting their vehicle engines to operate for more than 3 minutes in aggregate in any 60-minute period while the vehicles are stationary.

Details of the above ordinances and regulations can be found in the "Bilingual Laws Information System" website of the Department of Justice at

Development of New Air Legislation

Good progress was made in the development of new legislation in 2010 (See summary table).

To strengthen vehicle owners' confidence in the use of biodiesel as motor vehicle fuel, we have amended the Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) Regulation to introduce regulatory control on motor vehicle biodiesel. The Amendment Regulation came into operation on 1 July 2010.

Approved Equipment for Recovering and Recycling Controlled Refrigerants

"Approved Model" List of Dry-Cleaning Machines

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