air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on are part
of our shared environment. For many years, these free natural resources
were taken for granted as Hong Kong, like other developed countries,
raced ahead in its economic development. Industrial and motor vehicle
emissions were spewed into the air, sewage was dumped into the sea
and waste was dumped in landfills - all of it with few environmental
controls. As the quality of the environment deteriorated, the government
saw the need to reduce pollution and prevent future problems. The
Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was put in charge of combating
pollution and providing the community with a cleaner, healthier
environment to cleaner levels requires investment, yet everyone
in the community benefits. Since EPD was established in 1986, the
government has spent many billions of dollars to provide cleaner
air and water and safe waste disposal. Public health and the environment
have improved as a result. But our environmental problems are far
from over. The continuing development of Hong Kong and its neighbours
has increased the pressure on the environment and created new problems.
Many more billions of dollars still need to be spent to ensure a
Looking at the
EPD's past achievements, there is plenty of evidence of what can
be gained by investing in the environment. Beaches are appreciably
cleaner today as a result of new sewers and sewage treatment. 23
beaches had good water quality in 2003 as against nine in 1986,
and our beach water monitoring programme was well recognised in
an October BBC News Report following the issue by the World Health
Organisation of a report on safety in recreational waters. Levels
of major air pollutants at roadsides have been reduced by some 10
to 20 per cents since 1999 and smoky vehicles are now a rare sight,
thanks to a $1.4 billion package to reduce emissions from diesel
engines. More than $9 billion was spent in the 1990s replacing outdated
waste disposal facilities with new ones that have strict environmental
Other less costly
programmes have also had positive impacts. The EPD's input into
planning has helped to protect new developments from excessive traffic
noise. Stricter laws on construction work, together with a partnership
programme, have resulted in significantly fewer complaints and prosecutions
for noise pollution. Partnerships have also been developed with
restaurants, vehicle repair workshops and property management companies
to reduce a range of pollution problems from these sources. Environmental
assessment measures are helping to ensure environmental impacts
are addressed before major projects are approved. Community education
programmes, especially in the schools, are helping to raise awareness
and concern for the environment. Our response to complaints about
pollution has also been refined so the public can report problems
promptly, and be assured that they are acted on.
have helped to improve many aspects of Hong Kong's environment and
developed community understanding and support for the EPD's programmes.
But, as anyone can see, the local environment still suffers from
smog, water pollution, too much waste and other problems. In 2003,
Hong Kong moved closer towards taking significant decisions on how
to meet these challenges. In the waste and water programmes in particular,
studies on major projects were being completed for public consultation
that will ask the community to decide what value it places on a
Our most urgent
problem is waste disposal. The current landfills will be full within
seven to 11 years, barely enough time to build replacement facilities.
Efforts to reduce waste, while significant, will not be enough to
buy more time. In recent years, recycling programmes have been introduced
across the territory and in a wide range of sectors. More people
than ever are recycling and most households now have access to recycling
services. Charges have been proposed for construction waste, which
accounts for 40 per cent of waste at landfills, and hopefully will
gain Legislative Council's approval in 2004. In this respect Hong
Kong lags behind most other countries, from Vietnam to Canada, which
all impose waste disposal charges. To catch up with the rest of
the world, Hong Kong may also need to explore Product Responsibility
Schemes in which waste producers have to pay a fair share of recycling
and disposal costs. But while recycling and charging can help to
reduce waste, they are unfortunately not adequate enough to provide
a total solution to our waste problem.
The EPD therefore
is investigating waste treatment and disposal options to deal with
current and future waste loads. These would involve building facilities
to reduce the bulk of waste, extending existing landfills and building
new ones. These options are all expensive, yet they must be decided
on quickly to prevent waste from piling up on the streets in a few
years time. The public will be consulted in 2004 on what it thinks
are the best options, both in terms of cost and environmental impact.
are needed to address water quality. The Harbour Area Treatment
Scheme has successfully reduced pollution in the central and eastern
parts of Victoria Harbour. But that is only the first stage. The
next stage would collect sewage from the rest of the harbour and,
if the public so desires, increase the level of treatment so all
treated effluent could be disposed of safely in the harbour, rather
than by deep-sea tunnel in the South China Sea. A higher level of
treatment would mean a healthier harbour, but it is several times
more expensive than the current treatment being used. The public
will be asked to decide in 2004 whether it is willing to pay for
a cleaner harbour.
of cost also looms over air quality. The government has been able
to improve roadside air quality, but regional air quality - the
source of smog - is a more complex issue. The Hong Kong and Guangdong
governments have agreed on targets to reduce air pollution by 2010
and are working closely together to tackle this problem. Hong Kong
needs to continue reducing motor vehicle emissions and to further
reduce power plant emissions - a step that will not come cheaply.
Proposals are expected in the next few years in which the public,
again, will have to make difficult decisions.
For many years,
the community has received environmental services free of charge,
or at a heavily-subsidised rate. The Chemical Waste Treatment Centre,
which was the first environmental service to charge users, recovers
only 30 per cent of operating costs. Sewage charges reflect only
a fraction of the cost of collection, treatment and disposal. No
one currently pays for waste disposal at landfills. The government
picked up the bill for these services when its income was high.
But in recent years, it has had to cut back on its expenditure and
can no longer afford to provide a clean environment without recovering
more of the costs or letting others do so, such as private operators.
The public needs to realise that if it wants clean water, if it
wants its waste taken away and dealt with properly and if it wants
clean air, it is going to have to pay for it. A clean environment,
once sullied, cannot be restored for free.
EPD is the main government body responsible for carrying out
work to improve the environment and prevent new problems from
arising. Until the department was established in 1986, this
work had been spread among different departments. The EPD's
responsibilities include: proposing policies, enforcing environmental
legislation, monitoring environmental quality, providing transfer,
treatment and disposal facilities for many types of waste,
advising on the environmental implications of town planning
and new policies, and handling pollution complaints and incidents.
work is carried out by six Local Control Offices, which are
also responsible for building partnerships and links throughout
the community. Another strand of the EPD's work is building
environmental awareness. The Community Relations Unit is in
charge of raising awareness and encouraging participation
in environmental schemes. The department makes use of its
to release a wide range of information to the public, such
as the hourly Air Pollution Index and the weekly beach water
quality gradings. The department's Environmental Performance
Report, which reviews both policies and internal operations,
is also posted on the website.
with Our Mainland Counterparts
shares its environment with Guangdong and, since 1990, environment
officials from both sides have met regularly to discuss pollution
control and initiate joint actions. In 1999 cross-boundary
environmental co-operation was strengthened with the establishment
of the Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and
Environmental Protection, which was announced simultaneously
by Hong Kong's Chief Executive and Guangdong's Governor. One
of the first major tasks of the Joint Working Group was to
look at regional air quality. In 2002 it established targets
to improve regional air quality, and in 2003 it approved an
air quality management plan for the Pearl River Delta Region.
Preparations were also made to set up a regional air quality
monitoring network, which will start operating in 2004.
also works closely with Environmental Protection Bureaux (EPBs)
on the Mainland. In 2003, the Shenzhen EPB and the EPD completed
the Joint Study on the Mirs Bay Water Quality Regional Control
Strategy and drew up an action plan to protect the clean waters
of Mirs Bay, which followed similar co-operation by both sides
to protect Deep Bay. For the second year running, officials
from the Shanghai EPB and the EPD carried out an exchange
programme. The main objectives are to widen the exposure of
participating staff, facilitate an exchange of experience,
and to foster closer partnership and communication between
both jurisdictions. Hong Kong environment and customs officials
also co-operated with their Mainland counterparts during the
year to combat illegal transboundary shipments of hazardous
co-operation has also been further developed with national
environmental bodies on the Mainland. In 2003 we expanded
our work with the State Environmental Protection Administration
to focus on the area of environmental impact assessments.
China introduced a new law on EIAs in 2003 and Hong Kong has
comparatively more experience in this area. We therefore will
conduct more exchanges and information-sharing sessions on
EIA experiences, practices and knowledge with our Mainland
and Hong Kong first signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
on Environmental Collaboration in 1992 and this was renewed
in 2003. The Canadian Minister of Environment, Mr David Anderson,
visited in September, meeting Hong Kong's Chief Executive
and the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works,
as well as other officials and community representatives.
A number of activities were organised alongside the visit,
including an experience-sharing workshop on managing regional
air quality which was attended by representatives from Hong
Kong, Macau, Canada and the Mainland
was held on stormwater management which was attended by environment
officials from Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. Another workshop
on climate change was organised at the end of the year by
the EPD, Environment Canada and the California Air Resources
Board, which was also attended by the State Environmental
in International Events
regularly monitors international developments in environmental
protection. We also organise and participate in international
workshops, seminars and conferences, so as to gain a better
understanding of different experiences and solutions in controlling
pollution and improving the environment.
EPD EIA officials also played an active and leading role internationally
in the field of environmental impact assessment. The Assistant
Director of Environmental Protection, Mr Elvis Au, who is
also the former President of the International Association
for Impact Assessment (IAIA), played a leading role in a project
on the development of a distance learning programme on Strategic
Environmental Assessment for Mainland China, jointly initiated
by the World Bank and the IAIA and with the involvement of
more than 20 international experts and over 10 experts in
Mainland China. Mr Au was also invited by the Thai Government
in November 2003 to be the international resource person for
an international Strategic Environmental Assessment workshop
In 2003 the EPD co-organised an international seminar on noise
barriers with the Highways Department, Hong Kong Polytechnic
University and Hong Kong Institute of Acoustics. The design
and function of noise barriers was the focus of talks by speakers
from Australia, Belgium, Britain and Japan, as well as Hong
have also been active over the years in attending and organising
international meetings on waste management.
Plays an Active Role in ISWA Activities
Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is the most representative
international body on waste management with 35 national members
from major western countries (the United States, Canada, France,
Britain, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, etc) and
Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, Singapore), as well as
is a member of ISWA and has organised two major ISWA conferences
in Hong Kong, the Chemical Waste Management Conference in
October 1992 and the International Waste Management Conference:
The Challenge for Asian Cities - Search for a Sustainable
Future in 2000. The EPD has also established a good relationship
with the China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation
(CAUES), which represents China on ISWA. The President of
CAUES led a delegation to the international conference in
Hong Kong in 2000, while the Deputy Director of Environmental
Protection, Mr Mike Stokoe, led delegations to two solid waste
management conferences organised by CAUES in Guangzhou in
2001 and in Beijing in 2002.
of the contributions made by Mr Stokoe, who has been a member
of ISWA for more than 10 years, CAUES agreed with ISWA that
he should chair the ISWA Working Group on Hazardous Waste.
Through the efforts of the working group and the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP), a training manual for developing
countries was published as a joint ISWA/UNEP publication.
The manual was formally launched at the ISWA Annual Congress
in July 2002 and Mr Fritz Balkau of UNEP (in conjunction with
Mr David Wilson) received a Publication Award at the ISWA
Annual Congress in Melbourne in November 2003.
manual was tested at a training course held in Istanbul in
July 2002 and Mr Keith Yeung of the EPD was one of the trainers.
Mr Yeung also participated in the preparation of the Chinese
version of the training manual in co-operation with the Hong
Kong Waste Management Association (HKWMA) and CAUES.
Lei of the EPD is a member of the ISWA Working Group on Healthcare
Waste. He joined other working group members to participate
in a training workshop on healthcare waste for developing
countries which was held in Istanbul in July 2002.
of his expertise on the subject, Mr Lei was also invited as
a speaker to the National Clinical Waste Conference held in
Melbourne in November 2003. He spoke about Hong Kong's proposed
clinical waste control scheme, as well as medical waste management
in China. Dr David Ha of the EPD also joined the conference
and spoke about Hong Kong's experience in dealing with waste
arisings from the Avian Flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome
Established the Environmental Protection Department on 1st
April, bringing the majority of pollution prevention and control
activities under one umbrella.
Water Pollution Control Regulations under the Water Pollution
Control Ordinance (1980).
Declared the first water control zone (WCZ) at Tolo Harbour.
the Sewerage Master Plan (SMP) programme to provide a blue
print for the sewerage infrastructure required to collect
sewage on a catchment-basis.
Implemented the Livestock Waste Control Scheme.
Noise Control Ordinance to provide statutory powers for the
control of noise from domestic and public places, construction
sites, industrial and commercial premises and noisy products.
Published the White Paper on "Pollution: A Time to Act"
laying down a comprehensive 10-year plan to fight pollution.
the statutory Waste Disposal Plan under the Waste Disposal
Ordinance to set out a 10-year plan for developing new facilities
and closing old ones.
Commissioned Hong Kong's first Refuse Transfer Station (RTS)
at Kowloon Bay.
the Air Pollution Control (Fuel Restriction) Regulations to
limit the sulphur content and viscosity of fuel oils. Significant
improvement was seen in ambient sulphur dioxide.
Established the first two Local Control Offices (LCOs) to
improve pollution control, services and liaison with the community.
Introduced unleaded petrol on 1st April to reduce harmful
Distributed 2003 desktop calendars, which includes educational
material, to owners, operators and managers of the restaurant
trade and their major stakeholders.
consultation on the Codes of Practice to prevent violations
of the Noise Control Ordinance, with emphasis on good management
a trial recovery programme for waste electrical and electronic
equipment (WEEE) and computers, which resulted in 25 000 units
of WEEE, computers and computer peripherals being recovered
for reuse or recycling over 12 months.
Launched the Environmental Essays Competition, on the theme
"Safeguarding Our Heritage: A Clean Victoria Harbour",
jointly organised with the Lions Club and the Association
of English Medium Secondary Schools.
Completed the Green Leader Programme, which trained 10 000
stakeholders as green leaders.
the Green Property Website for the Environmental Property
the Mirs Bay Water Quality Regional Control Strategy Joint
Study and formulated a regional water quality management strategy
for Mirs Bay, in collaboration with Shenzhen authorities.
Implemented the Waste Recycling Campaign in Housing Estates
(Phase VII), with the participation of 1 333 housing
the "Green Construction Example" and "Green
Construction Equipment" website, supported by the Business
and Services Promotion Unit (BSPU).
a pilot programme to recycle waste tyres, recycling about
230 tonnes per month for the production of a lightweight geo-construction
material to be used as filling material for road sub-base
Participated in the Team Clean operation and undertook joint
efforts with other government departments to improve environmental
hygiene in the community, with particular emphasis on flytipping
of waste, broken pipes and discharges in backlanes, illegal
connections to stormwater drains and improperly maintained
environmental workshop on "Planning & Supervision
Towards a Green Construction", jointly organised with
the Hong Kong Construction Association.
extension of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol to the Hong Kong Special
Administrative Region by the Central People's Government.
Launched the Native Tree Planting Competition to promote waste
reduction by organic composting and care for native trees.
World Environment Day 2003 celebrations on the theme, "Walking
for a Green and Healthy Hong Kong". About 100 000 people
the scope of the one-stop "Restaurant Help Desk Service"
to cover dedicated modular training for the restaurant trade,
a meet-the-adviser service and the development of standards
and criteria for green restaurants.
an interim version of the EPD's Strategic Environmental Assessment
Manual (SEA) with a view to promoting the importance of SEA
in the region.
a study on the development of a biological indicator system
for monitoring marine pollution in Hong Kong.
Launched The First Hong Kong Green Pre-school Award, aimed
at promoting environmental management in schools, with more
than 110 pre-schools participating.
the Special Achievement in GIS Awards at the 23rd Annual ESRI
International User Conference held in July 2003 in San Diego,
USA, for our GIS-based Pollution Complaint Management database.
Organised the "Organic Farms in the City" competition
for primary and secondary school students, to promote organic
farming and farm design from waste materials.
the Fanling Environmental Resource Centre.
Jointly launched the Jiminy Cricket's Environmentality Challenge
with Hong Kong Disneyland.
with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to organise a short
course, the "Certificate of Environmental Protection
in Construction Industry".
a trial "Mooncake Containers Recovery Programme"
with support from the trade associations, property management
companies, Radio Hong Kong One and the Agency for Volunteer
Service, over the two weekends following the Mid-Autumn festival.
About 25 000 containers were collected.
"The Statement of Prosecution Policy for the Environmental
Protection Department". The purpose is to ensure fair
and consistent decision-making amongst the departmental prosecutors
responsible for environmental prosecutions, and to make the
process more understandable and transparent to the public.
the Indoor Air Quality Certification Scheme for Offices and
Launched slogan and logo design competitions for students
and the general public to encourage the use of rechargeable
environmental workshop on "Green Construction Practices
- Everybody's Responsibility" jointly organised with
the Hong Kong Construction Association.
a six-month "Water Saving Project" with the Chinese
Cuisine Training Institute, with the aim of helping the restaurant
trade save water.
a study on Environmental Impact Assessment and Landuse Rezoning
for Development of Recovery Park in Tuen Mun Area 38.
the Environmental Protection Interactive Centre (EPIC) on
the EPD website, to give the public access to more specific
Organised the "Hong Kong Environmental Protection Festival
2003 - Forum on SMEs in Environmental Protection Industry"
to promote the waste recovery and recycling industries.
a territory-wide "Wait Green, Engine Off" Campaign
covering 18 districts.
guidelines on "What Property Managers can Consider in
Dealing with Noise from Renovation Work".
Launched the "Green School Website" to provide support
to schools on environmental management in schools.
the 10th anniversary of the Wan Chai Environmental Resource
the Environmental Property Management Programme - 2003 Experience
the "Environmental Guidebook for Vehicle Repair Trade"
(together with a VCD), to promote the vehicle repair workshop
partnership scheme to trade associations and assist operators
in complying with the legislative requirements.
of the Regional Air Quality Management Plan for the Pearl
River Delta Region by the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working
Group on Sustainable Development and Environment Protection.
mandatory requirement that pre-Euro diesel vehicles not more
than four tonnes be retrofitted with emission reduction devices.
14-day Fast-track Processing of Construction Noise Permit