Environment Hong Kong 2006 Chapter 1: IntroductionChapter 2: Cross-boundary and International Co-operationChapter 3: Community AwarenessChapter 4: Customer Service and PartnershipChapter 5: Environmental Assessment and Planning
Chapter 6: AirChapter 7: NoiseChapter 8: WasteChapter 9: WaterChapter 10: ConservationChapter 11: Environmental Compliance
Vision & MissionForewordDirector's MessageContentsSummaryHomeEnglishChinese TraditionalChinese Simplified
 
Contents
Vision and Mission Chapter 1 Introduction OUR COMMON DESTINY Chapter 8 Waste THE FOURTH 'R' Chapter 2 Cross-boundary and International Co-operation TACKLING POLLUTION ACROSS BOUNDARIES Chapter 3 Community Awareness STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Chapter 4 Customer Service and Partnership GREENING INDUSTRY Chapter 5 Environmental Assessment and Planning SAFEGUARDING OUR FUTURE ENVIRONMENT Chapter 6 Air ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY Chapter 7 Noise ROAD MAP FOR NOISE CONTROL Chapter 8 Waste THE FOURTH 'R' Chapter 9 Water SHARIN TE COST OF A CLEANER HARBOUR Chapter 10 Conservation PROTECTIN OUR NATURAL RESOURCES Chapter 11 Environmental Compliance BUILDIN CAPACITY Chapter 7 Noise ROAD MAP FOR NOISE CONTROL Chapter 1 Introduction OUR COMMON DESTINY Chapter 2 Cross-boundary and International Co-operation TACKLING POLLUTION ACROSS BOUNDARIES Chapter 3 Community Awareness STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Chapter 4 Customer Service and Partnership GREENING INDUSTRY Chapter 5 Environmental Assessment and Planning SAFEGUARDING OUR FUTURE ENVIRONMENT Chapter 6 Air ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY Chapter 9 Water SHARIN TE COST OF A CLEANER HARBOUR Chapter 10 Conservation PROTECTIN OUR NATURAL RESOURCES

Vision and Mission
Our Vision

Is of a Hong Kong

which enjoys an environment that is both healthy and pleasant;

in which the community places a premium on sustaining such an environment for both themselves and future generations.

 
Our Mission

Is to contribute towards realising this vision by applying our professional knowledge and judgement and drawing on our experience in environmental protection and conservation

to formulate policies and plans on environmental protection and conservation;

to increase community awareness of environmental protection and conservation issues;

to implement environmental protection legislation and plans; and

to participate in the town planning process
with a view to achieving and maintaining a high standard of environmental quality and conservation.

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Chapter 1 Introduction
 

OUR COMMON DESTINY

Hong Kong is a high consumption society. While the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has achieved some success in managing and controlling the liquid, solid and gaseous wastes being generated, our environment still has much room for improvement. The EPD recognises that a sustainable environment requires everybody in the community to share responsibility, a message we promoted in 2005.

In terms of water pollution, we need to press ahead with the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) Stage Two to clean up the rest of Victoria Harbour and enhance sewage treatment. This will be expensive and businesses and households have to pay the full cost of treating their sewage in line with the polluter pays principle.

Cost was also on the agenda for waste. The Waste Disposal Ordinance was amended to allow construction waste charges to be introduced. We plan to introduce a bill on municipal solid waste charges to the Legislative Council in 2007. We are also putting much effort into encouraging people to recycle and reduce their waste.

Another major issue in 2005 was air pollution. Power plants are a significant contributor to smog and we introduced new limits on their emissions. The general public was also asked to be less wasteful with electricity. A Government initiative to set summer air-conditioning temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius was promoted to the community. We were also developing a mandatory energy efficiency-labelling scheme for electrical appliances.

Furthermore, the Government has adopted a 4-pronged approach to tackle environmental noise problems. We are encouraging individuals and different sectors of the community to contribute towards a quieter environment.

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Chapter 2 Cross-boundary and Iinternational Co-operation
 
TACKLING POLLUTION ACROSS BOUNDARIES

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) established a division to focus on cross-boundary and international co-operation in April 2005, following our merger with the environment arm of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau. Many of our programmes have an element of cross-boundary collaboration and the new division will deal with this. It will also handle Hong Kong's compliance with international conventions on the environment, and promote our work abroad.

Working Together

The high-level Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection held its sixth meeting in December 2005. The emphasis was on air and water pollution.

Regional Pollution

Hong Kong and Guangdong have agreed on a joint plan of action to reduce air pollution to well below 1997 levels by 2010. Details of Hong Kong's efforts to reach its targets are in Chapter 6 of this pamphlet. Guangdong has also introduced a wide range of measures to reduce pollution. In November

2005 the two administrations launched a joint regional air quality monitoring network comprising 13 stations in Guangdong and three in Hong Kong, which provides the daily Regional Air Quality Index for each station. Separately, members of the Pan Pearl River Delta Co-operation agreed in 2005 to co-operate to control water pollution along the length of the Pearl River. The members include nine Mainland provinces, Hong Kong and Macao.

International Co-operation

The EPD consulted stakeholders on the preparation of the Hong Kong Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. We also made preparations to implement in Hong Kong the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

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Chapter 3 Community Awareness
 
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

A sustainable environment requires everybody in the community to adopt greener practices. This is an on-going challenge. In 2005 the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) sought to improve the community's performance by focusing on two areas where people can make the most difference, waste reduction and energy conservation.


Recycling Opportunities

Our landfills are depleting faster than expected. To help the situation the EPD is expanding recycling opportunities. In 2005 we promoted waste separation and recycling through two television programmes. Our officers also visited housing estates, shopping malls and other places to explain and demonstrate waste separation. In December the annual Environmental Protection Festival adopted the theme "Reduce and Avoid Waste" and featured a "Zero Waste" walk and a Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling Day.

Conserving Energy

 

In addition to waste reduction, we promoted energy conservation. In 2005 the Government set its summer air-conditioning temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius. The community was urged to follow suit in an Announcement of Public Interest produced for World Environment Day, June 5.


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Chapter 4 Customer Service and Partnership
GREENING INDUSTRY

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has adopted the polluter pays principle, but financial tools are not the only means of encouraging responsible behaviour. We have formed partnerships with targeted trades in recent years with the result that non-compliance and complaints have dropped dramatically.

Core Partners

 

Our four formal partners are the construction industry, restaurants, vehicle repair workshops and property management. Since 2000 complaints against these industries have dropped a total 22% and convictions more than 90%. Some of the initiatives launched in 2005 included working with the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau to introduce payment to contractors for a good environmental performance, and developing guidelines on cold water thawing for restaurants. We also launched a Green Garage web site and enlisted property managers to help us with our waste reduction programme.

Extending Our Reach

The EPD does not have the resources to form partnerships with every industry, but we are developing other ways to reach out to a wider range of operators. Recently we have developed templates for ISO 14001 environmental management systems that can help businesses meet ISO 14001 requirements.

Customer Service

Apart from working with operators, the EPD has a customer service arm to serve the community. In 2005 we handled more than 56 000 complaints and enquiries and we received very favourable feedback on our performance through an Interactive Voice Response survey.


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Chapter 5 Environmental Assessment and Planning
 

SAFEGUARDING OUR FUTURE ENVIRONMENT

To avoid future environmental problems and improve the environment, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) seeks to promote responsible behaviour by project proponents and improve the public's understanding of the possible impacts of proposed developments. Two tools help us here: the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs).

 

Assessing Projects

Since 1998, when the EIAO was enacted, 1.5 million people have been protected from adverse environmental consequences from proposed developments. Recent examples of successful application of the EIAO include the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's Lok Ma Chau Spur Line project, and land decontamination at the old Kai Tak airport site.

Assessing Policies

SEAs are used to assess the impacts of policies at an early stage. The Chief Executive acknowledged their importance when he announced in his October 2005 policy address that all major government policies would be subject to environmental protection scrutiny. The EPD is keen to encourage public participation in the SEA process, and in December 2005, we launched a web-based SEA knowledge centre.

Continuous Public  Involvement

 

Continuous public involvement is an approach that aims to facilitate public engagement during the inception stage of the planning process, to avoid later problems. The EPD is promoting use of a 3-D EIA tool to that end, as it gives a clear picture of the impacts of proposed projects. By the end of 2005 eight major proposed projects had incorporated this tool into their plans.

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Chapter 6 Air
ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY

Smog has become a fairly frequent occurrence in Hong Kong, generating much concern about public health and the environmental impacts of poor air quality. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has introduced programmes to control local air pollution and is working with Guangdong authorities to address regional air pollution. One message we are promoting is that polluters must take responsibility for controlling their emissions.

Fossil Fuel Emissions

The EPD has an extensive programme to control motor vehicle emissions. As a result, roadside air pollution has dropped by 14-17% (depending on the pollutant) since 1999. However, power plants are still a problem. They emit 92% of Hong Kong's total sulphur dioxide emissions and high levels of other pollutants. From August 2005 the EPD required operators renewing their specified process licences for power plants to reduce their total emissions. Previously, only the pollution concentration in emissions was controlled.

Products That Pollute

 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also contribute to smog. They are contained in such common products as paints, inks and selected consumer products. The EPD has negotiated with suppliers and secured their agreement to a mandatory control on the VOC content in these products. It is expected the control will come into effect in 2007.


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Chapter 7 Noise
 

ROAD MAP FOR NOISE CONTROL

One million people in Hong Kong are affected by excessive traffic noise, a figure that would be much higher were it not for the Environmental Protection Department's (EPD) efforts to control the problem. Since 1990, over $1.3 billion has been spent on low noise surfaces and road barriers for new roads. Together with our professional input provided at the planning stage of project development, these measures have protected 740 000 people from excessive traffic noise. Low noise surface has now been a standard practice for high speed roads. However, noise from existing roads remains a problem. In 2005 we consolidated our efforts together into a package of five strategies that aims to improve public understanding and support for our initiatives.

Strategies for Traffic Noise Control

First, we will continue to use planning and prevention to protect citizens from traffic noise from new roads. We are also looking at how to make developers take greater account of road noise in their plans.

Second, we are controlling vehicle noise emission through legislation for new vehicle registrations. We are also investigating how to enhance the community's awareness in proper vehicle maintenance to reduce noise.

Third, we are tackling traffic noise from existing roads. Some 30 road sections are suitable for retrofitting barriers, and 72 other local roads for low-noise surfaces. That still leaves 550 existing roads with unacceptable traffic noise. For some road sections, traffic management is an option, but it will require greater support and co-operation from vehicle operators and the community to succeed.

Fourth, we are pursuing public education and partnership to make people more aware of the road traffic noise problem. A 3-D tool has been developed to demonstrate road noise impacts on new developments. We are also developing Practice Guides to encourage drivers to adopt quieter driving practices.

The fifth strategy is research and development. The EPD is working with local academics and professionals to devise technological solutions to our traffic noise problem.


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Chapter 8 Waste

THE FOURTH 'R'

Hong Kong is rapidly running out of landfill space. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has exhorted people to "Reduce, Re-use, Recycle". Now we are adding a fourth 'R': take Responsibility for the waste they generate. In 2005 we issued "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)" addressing every stage of waste generation and disposal.

The Problem of Waste

Municipal solid waste loads are growing at about three times the population growth rate, which is unsustainable. We have three chief goals to tackle the problem. First, reduce the total waste generated by 1% a year from 2005-2014. Second, increase waste recovery to 50% of the total by 2014 from 40% today. And third, reduce the total municipal solid waste disposed of at landfills to less than 25% by 2014 as against 60% today.

Tackling at Source

 

Floor-based source separation of waste was introduced in some housing estates in 2005 to make it easier for people to separate their waste for recycling. This will extend to 80% of the population in Hong Kong by 2010.

Incentives to Reduce Waste

User pay schemes are being introduced. In 2005 new legislation was passed to enable the introduction of charges for construction waste disposal. We will introduce the Eco-responsibility Bill to provide a legal framework for the producer responsibility schemes in 2006, and a bill on municipal solid waste charging into the Legislative Council in 2007.

Treatment and Disposal

The EPD will adopt a multi-technology approach to waste treatment. Biological treatment will be used on source-separated biodegradable waste, mechanical-biological treatment will be used on mixed municipal solid waste, and thermal treatment will be used on the remainder to reduce its bulk by 90%. This should reduce pressure on landfills. However, as landfills are still required for inert wastes and waste residues from treatment, we are pursuing a programme costing over $8 billion to extend the existing landfills.


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Chapter 9 Water
 

SHARING THE COST OF A CLEANER HABOUR

75% of sewage from Victoria Harbour is now properly treated, but that still leaves some areas of the harbour with unacceptable pollution levels. To secure clean water in all areas in the long term, we need to collect and treat the remaining pollution. This will be costly. In accordance with the polluter pays principle, the Government has concluded that the community must help to foot the bill.

 

Sewage Treatment

 

The remaining sewage would be treated under Stage Two of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme. In 2005 the Administration decided to split this into two phases. Stage 2A would gather the remaining untreated sewage from around the harbour and introduce disinfection at the sewage treatment facilities on Stonecutters Island. This would cost $8.1 billion to build and $430 million a year to operate and be completed by 2013-14. Stage 2B would involve building biological facilities to provide a higher, more expensive form of treatment. A review of the timing of Stage 2B would be carried out in 2010-11.

Polluter Pays

The Government will pay the capital costs of Stage 2A. For long-term sustainability to be achieved the polluter must pay the operating costs. Currently, households and businesses pay only half the cost of treating their sewage. It is proposed that the sewage charges be gradually increased until the full treatment costs are recovered. When Stage 2A starts operation in 2013-14, an average household would need to pay in the region of $30 per month.


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Chapter 10 Conservation
 
PROTECTING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES

Conservation is a new area of responsibility for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), handed over when the department merged with the environment arm of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau in April 2005. Our focus is on policy-making for energy and nature conservation.

 


Energy Conservation

 

The Hong Kong Government published "A First Sustainable Development Strategy for Hong Kong" in May 2005 and one key focus was renewable energy. Our target is to generate 1-2% of Hong Kong's electricity needs from renewable sources by 2012. The two power companies have agreed to set up production-scale wind turbines. The EPD also worked on a mandatory energy efficiency-labelling scheme during the year for room coolers, refrigerators and compact fluorescent lamps, which will help encourage consumers to use energy efficient products.

Natural Conservation

 

The Government unveiled the New Nature Conservation Policy in November 2004 to prioritise and enhance protection of important ecological sites, particularly those on private land. In 2005 approval was given to three pilot management agreement projects proposed under that policy. Non-governmental organisations will receive Government funding to provide landowners with financial incentives for conserving ecologically sensitive sites. Separately, the EPD tabled a new bill in the Legislative Council to better protect endangered species.


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Chapter 11 Environmental Compliance

BUILDING CAPACITY

Hong Kong has seen a steady reduction in pollution complaints and prosecutions over the past five years, but there are still some persistent problem areas. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is continually developing ways to deal with these offenders through legal and technological means. We are also maintaining our vigilance so we can respond to new and persistent problems. Some examples of our work are described below.

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste is a grey area. Sometimes it is described as second-hand goods, yet it has the potential to harm human health and the environment. The EPD has communicated with source countries of this waste and conducted joint operations with local and Mainland authorities against offenders. This has helped to reduce offences. We have also polished our legal arguments to contend that used electronic appliances abandoned by overseas owners are indeed waste and should be so regarded by the law.

Livestock Waste

The on-going problem of livestock waste is polluting rivers and streams and creating noxious odours in the New Territories. The EPD conducts regular enforcement activities against offenders. In 2005 we also organised a workshop for farmers and launched the Livestock Waste Information System on our web site to make the sources of river and stream pollution more transparent to the public.

Dumping at Sea

In 2005, a real-time monitoring system was developed to enable the EPD to promptly detect short dumping (dumped outside permitted areas) and take immediate actions against these operators.


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