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
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Chapter 1 Introduction
 
Highlights in 2005
  • Merged the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) with the Environment Branch of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau from 1 April 2005, and brought conservation policy-making under EPD’s remit.

  • Unveiled "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)", outlining a comprehensive package of measures to deal with municipal solid waste.

  • Commenced charging for construction waste disposal at landfills, sorting plants and public fill reception facilities.

  • Received approval from the Executive Council to build Stage Two of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme in two phases and adopt a polluter pays approach.

  • Introduced a cap on emissions from power plants.

  • Reached agreement with traders to impose limits on volatile organic compounds in products.

  • Established a joint regional air quality monitoring network with Guangdong and agreed to release the Regional Air Quality Index to the public.

  • Launched the web-based Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) knowledge centre and interactive 3-D continuous public engagement in EIA.

  • Rolled out a full-scale programme to promote separation of domestic waste at source.

  • Approved three Management Agreement Pilot Projects, in which green groups and landowners receive financial incentives to co-operate and protect ecologically sensitive sites.


OUR COMMON DESTINY

Hong Kong is a high consumption society where people often throw or flush their waste away and consume energy without much thought of the environmental consequences. Instead, they expect the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to pick up the pieces. We have tried hard over the years to stay on top of the ever-increasing quantities of liquid, solid and gaseous wastes generated in Hong Kong, with some success. We have provided safe, environmentally sound systems for handling wastes, achieved significant reductions in street-level air pollution, and endeavoured to improve noise in our environment. But, as anyone can see, our environment is still not satisfactory. Ambient air pollution levels are unhealthy, water pollution remains a serious problem in parts of Victoria Harbour, waste loads are increasing at a faster rate than the population, and traffic noise is still affecting a significant part of our population. Our problems have become too complex for one government department, or even one government, to cope with on its own.

The EPD is working with trade and industry and other governments to control pollution, but we need to go deeper to the root of the problem. Everybody in the community is a polluter and everybody needs to recognise they have a responsibility to control and reduce their pollution. That means paying more for services that protect the environment and modifying habits and lifestyles. In 2005 the EPD unveiled an ambitious range of programmes and investments to deal with persistent pollution. These were all underscored by the notion that the community needs to bear a greater share of the burden if we are to achieve a sustainable environment.

Take water pollution as an example. The Government gave the green light to Stage Two of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme in 2005, to follow up improvements made in Stage One. Stage Two is a costly but necessary system that would significantly improve water quality throughout Victoria Harbour, to the extent that the annual cross-harbour swim could be re-introduced. While the Government recognises its responsibility to build the system, it needs everybody to pay their share of the full operating costs of treating their sewage.

This principle of making polluters pay is not just a financial one; it is also a matter of equity and responsibility. Unless the full operating costs are recovered, the Government – and taxpayers – will be subsidising polluting activities. Moreover, someone who pollutes more will receive a larger subsidy than someone who tries to minimise their pollution. Each household currently pays only half their share of sewage treatment expenditure, an average $11 a month, while commercial and industrial sectors pay about 80 per cent of the costs of treating the excess pollution they produce. When the $8.1 billion first phase of Stage Two starts operating in 2013-14, the full sewage treatment costs would likely be in the region of $30 per month per household, a figure most people could afford. In 2006 we will go to the Legislative Council seeking an increase in sewage charges. The intention is to gradually increase the charges until they reflect the full treatment cost. The message here is that polluters must pay for the quantity of pollution they produce.

Western Victoria Harbour.
 
A poster of the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme.

The polluter pays principle is also being applied in waste management. Our municipal solid waste loads have increased at a rate about three times the growth in population over the past nine years. In early 2005 landfills were estimated to be full within six to ten years unless urgent action was taken to reduce, recycle and treat our waste. The EPD undertook two major initiatives during the year. We amended the Waste Disposal Ordinance to introduce landfill charges for construction waste, which place enormous pressure on landfills. Polluters will pay directly for the amount of construction waste they throw away. We also issued "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)", a comprehensive strategy on sustainable municipal solid waste management that requires a high degree of community support and participation, including paying for waste disposal.

The Policy Framework addresses municipal solid waste management on three fronts. First, we need to avoid and reduce waste at source. A source separation scheme was launched in 2005 to make it convenient for people to remove a wide range of recyclables from the waste stream, and will extend to all public rental housing estates by 2012. Second, we need economic incentives to reduce and recycle waste. This is where waste charges come in. Municipal solid waste charges are being developed to reflect disposal costs and encourage waste minimisation and we hope to introduce a relevant Bill in 2007. At the same time we are developing producer responsibility schemes which will require manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers to recover and recycle waste products that otherwise end up in the waste stream. The third front involves treatment and disposal. We will adopt a multi-technology approach by applying biological treatment to source-separated biodegradable waste, mechanical biological treatment to recover recyclables and stabilise the biodegradable fraction of mixed waste and incineration for the remainder before disposal of the residue at landfills.

Taken together, these initiatives would mean only 25 per cent of our waste would end up in landfills, as against 60 per cent at present. However, there would be broad impacts on the community. New facilities would need to be built, to achieve safety and environmental standards. The community needs to accept that these facilities are important for achieving sustainable waste management. Just as importantly, people need to pull their weight in reducing waste loads. Sharing responsibility is not only about sharing costs. Everyone also has to make an effort to minimise their waste and buy goods with less packaging, re-use items where possible and separate waste for recycling. Collectively, these actions will have positive impacts on our landfills and our consumption of resources.

Dr Sarah LIAO, Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (fifth from right), opens the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Festival 2004-05. One of Hong Kong’s power plants operates at Lamma Island.

The idea that individual actions can help the environment also extends to air pollution. The EPD is tackling air pollution on several fronts to meet emission reduction targets agreed with Guangdong. We have brought motor vehicle emissions under control and we are developing controls on volatile organic compounds, an important source of smog. Most importantly, in 2005, we acted to limit emissions from power plants, our main contributors to regional air pollution. Power plants generate energy used by everyone in the community. If we are less wasteful with electricity, we can reduce air pollution from this source.

The Government is taking the lead here by setting summer indoor temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius in government premises to conserve energy and developing a mandatory energy efficiency-labelling scheme for three major consumer products. The success of these initiatives will depend on how widely they are adopted in the community. If more people become conscious of their electricity consumption and try to reduce it, there will be greater benefits to air quality in Hong Kong and the region.

View of Victoria Harbour from the Peak.

On the noise front, the Government is tackling environmental noise problems through a 4-pronged approach: prevention through planning, legislative control, implementation of abatement programmes and public engagement. Individuals such as household occupants, road-users, drivers, operators of public transport, building contractors, developers, factory operators can all contribute to a quieter environment by makiing a conscientious effort to reduce noise.

The Government has a responsibility to address Hong Kong's environmental problems by developing strategies, building facilities and co-operating with other governments. But it cannot single-handedly change people's behaviour. Everybody in the community needs to make an effort to separate their waste, put up with minor inconveniences such as higher air-conditioning temperatures and generally try to minimise their environmental impacts where they can. They also need to understand the necessity of the Government's plans to improve the environment, even when these incur costs and some inconveniences to homes and businesses. We all live in the same environment, we all have a responsibility to improve and protect it. Only with this sense of shared responsibility and common destiny can we hope to achieve a safe, healthy, sustainable environment for ourselves and for future generations.

Organisation Chart of the Environmental Protection Department
MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SINCE 1986
1986
Established the Environmental Protection Department on April 1, bringing the majority of pollution prevention and control activities under one umbrella.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Enacted Water Pollution Control Regulations under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance (1980).
 

 
1987
Declared the first water control zone (WCZ) at Tolo Harbour.
 
 
Commenced the Sewerage Master Plan (SMP) programme to provide a blue print for the sewerage infrastructure required to collect sewage on a catchment-basis.
 

 
1988
Implemented the Livestock Waste Control Scheme.
 
 
Enacted the 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.
 

 
1989
Published the "White Paper on Pollution: A Time to Act" laying down a comprehensive 10-year plan to fight pollution.
 
 
Published 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.
 

 
1990
Commissioned Hong Kong’s first Refuse Transfer Station (RTS) at Kowloon Bay.
 
 
Implemented 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 levels.
 

 
1991
Established the first two Local Control Offices (LCOs) to improve pollution control, services and liaison with the community.
 
 
Introduced unleaded petrol on April 1 to reduce harmful lead pollution.
 

 
1992
Completed Hong Kong’s first "over-road" noise barrier at Tate’s Cairn Tunnel approach roads to protect adjacent high rise dwellings from road traffic noise.
 
 
Saw announcement in Governor’s Address to the Legislative Council that all Executive Council policy and project papers contain an Environmental Implications paragraph.
 

 
1993
Commissioned comprehensive Chemical Waste Treatment Centre – the first in South East Asia, with a capacity to treat 100 000 tonnes of chemical waste per annum, most of which had previously been dumped in the harbour.
 
 
Commissioned West New Territories (WENT) Landfill, the first of three strategic landfills in Hong Kong.
 

 
1994
Opened the EPD’s Visitors Centre in Revenue Tower, Wan Chai to complement the Wan Chai Environmental Resource Centre. These are the gateways to environmental information for the community.
 
 
Banned the import of halons and introduced controls on 3,4-hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), 3,4 hydrobromo-fluorocarbons (HBFC), and methyl bromide under the Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance, fulfilling our global obligation in environmental protection.
 

 
1995
Launched Hong Kong’s first Air Pollution Index (API) to inform the community of the status of air pollution in Hong Kong.
 
 
Extended the 24-hour pollution complaints hotline service to six local hotlines to handle complaints on a district basis.
 

 
1996
Enacted the Air Pollution Control (Open Burning) Regulation to bring open burning activities under control.
 
 
Established EPD’s home page in the World Wide Web to provide the public with easy access to environmental information conducive to an informed and environmentally aware community.
 

 
1997
Enacted the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance to set out the framework for the controlling the environmental impacts of major development projects.
 
 
Launched a pilot scheme for liquefied petroleum gas taxis to reduce air pollution.
 

 
1998
Saw announcement in the Chief Executive’s Policy Address that all policy secretaries and directors of bureaux and departments have to provide environmental reports for their organisations starting from 2000.
 
 
Saw agreement by the Hong Kong – Guangdong Environmental Protection Liaison Group to work towards removing all effluent from the Deep Bay catchment as a long term goal.
 

 
1999
Placed emphasis in the Chief Executive’s Policy Address on "Quality People, Quality Home" and sustainable development.
 
 
Announced a comprehensive programme of measures to tackle motor vehicle emissions.
 

 
2000
Saw endorsement by the Executive Council of a new policy to redress noise impacts from existing roads by means of engineering and non-engineering measures where practicable.
 
 
Saw signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Environmental Protection Department on the control of hazardous waste imports and exports.
 

 
2001
Tightened motor vehicle fuel requirements, introduced Euro III emission standards for newly registered vehicles in step with the European Union, and required newly-registered taxis to be fuelled by LPG or petrol.
 
 
Saw full commissioning of Stage 1 of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) [formerly known as Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS)].
 

 
2002
Completed a report on air quality in the Pearl River Delta region, through the Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection.
 
 
Launched the Waste Recycling Campaign in Housing Estates (Phase VI), with the participation of 1 200 public and private housing estates covering some 1.5 million households, and co-operation with community groups to launch waste recovery schemes.
 

 
2003
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 septic tanks.
 
 
Saw endorsement 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 Environmental Protection.
 

 
2004
Saw the governments of the Hong Kong SAR and Guangdong Province jointly commence work to establish a Pearl River Delta region joint air monitoring network and the associated quality assurance and control manuals, and to arrange routine quality management meetings.
 
 
Saw the Legislative Council approve the Waste Disposal (Amendment) Bill No.2 2003 to enable charging for disposal of construction waste at waste disposal facilities and to enhance control of illegal dumping of waste.
 

 

2005

January

  • Saw the CE announce in his policy speech that HATS Stage Two would proceed in phases with Stage 2A targeted for completion in 2013.

  • Launched the programme on source separation of domestic waste territory-wide with the aim of having 80 per cent of the population in Hong Kong take part by 2010.

  • Organised a seminar and launched a support package on Environmental Management Information and the ISO 14001 environmental management system for SMEs in the electrical/electronic sector.

  • Issued a bilingual guideline on "Environmentally-friendly Cold Water Thawing Practice", in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong.

  • Launched a new Green Garage web site (http://www.greengarage.com.hk).

February

  • Organised a seminar at Central Library for the restaurant trade to share successful experiences on green restaurant and management practices.


March

  • Implemented the amended Air Pollution Control (Petrol Filling Stations) (Vapour Recovery) Regulation to require vapour recovery systems to be installed at petrol filling stations for recovering petrol vapour during vehicle refuelling.

  • Organised thematic workshops on "Towards Green Restaurant 2005" at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre for the restaurant trade and related stakeholders, covering the development of pollution control technologies, green management policies and practices in the Mainland and overseas.


April

  • Saw the merger of the Environmental Protection Department and the Environment Branch of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau on April 1.

  • Introduced the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Bill to the Legislative Council. The bill will enable Hong Kong to fully comply with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

  • Launched the territory-wide Rechargeable Battery Recycling Programme to recover all types of rechargeable batteries. This was a good example of tripartite collaboration between the trade, green groups and the Government in implementing a voluntary producer responsibility scheme.

  • Held an appointment ceremony for Environmental Ambassadors and paint spraying seminar for the vehicle repairing trade.


May

  • Saw signing of co-operation arrangement between the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Environmental Protection Department on air pollution.


June

  • Commenced a grant scheme to help owners of pre-Euro heavy diesel vehicles that need to operate on-board equipment when idling, to install particulate reduction devices.

  • Issued a promotional video CD for the restaurant trade, to promote environmental awareness, legislative requirements and compliance assistance service.

  • Adopted "Fresh Air, Cool City" as the local theme of World Environment Day 2005 to encourage switching off idling vehicle engines and setting air-conditioning temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius.

  • Organised two seminars for practitioners on Strategic Environmental Assessment (June and December).

July

  • Commenced an EIA Study on advance disinfection facilities at Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works.

  • Commissioned the Low-level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility at Siu A Chau.

  • Launched the "Guideline on Modelling Vehicle Emissions" and an advanced vehicle emission model that was adapted from the California Air Resource Board’s EMFAC model.

  • Launched the administrative Quality Powered Mechanical Equipment scheme to promote the use of quieter and more environmentally friendly construction equipment.

  • Received the first delegation of officials from the State Environmental Protection Administration under a formal agreement on staff exchanges with EPD.

August

  • Disseminated the Life Cycle Energy Analysis software tool to appraise the life cycle costs and life cycle environmental performance of building materials and components in promoting the concept of sustainable construction.

  • Imposed Hong Kong’s first set of emission caps on the Castle Peak Power Station of CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd. on August 1 as a condition of the Specified Process Licence renewal under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance.

  • Launched a revamped "Green Restaurant Website" .

  • Set aside $5 million under the Environment and Conservation Fund to support the implementation of Source Separation of Domestic Waste in private housing estates.


September

  • Saw membership of the Wastewi$e Scheme exceed 1 000.

  • Joined the Pan Pearl River Delta Regional Environmental Protection Industry Cooperation Exhibition with the Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau to promote regional co-operation on the environmental protection industry.


October

  • Saw the Environment and Conservation Fund Committee approve the granting of $4,620,000 to three non-governmental organisations to implement pilot conservation management agreement projects in Fung Yuen and Long Valley, to enhance conservation of ecologically important sites under private ownership.

  • Secured additional funding of $3.3 billion for sewerage projects, of which $1.3 billion was for village sewerage.

  • Saw the new CE reaffirm the Government’s intention to implement HATS Stage Two in phases with the aim of completing Stage 2A by 2013-14 and advanced disinfection by 2008-09, subject to acceptance by the community of the need for the full recurrent costs to be recovered through the sewage services charging scheme.

  • Introduced to the Legislative Council an amendment regulation to implement Euro IV emission standards for newly registered light duty vehicles in 2006.

  • Applied 3-D visualisation technologies at a public consultation for noise barrier installation to enhance public understanding.


November

  • Commenced on November 30 operation of the Pearl River Delta regional air quality monitoring network jointly established by the Guangdong and HKSAR governments, and published a Regional Air Quality Index for each monitoring station.

  • Updated the environmental management system support packages for SMEs in the construction and electrical/electronic sectors to ISO14001:2004 version.


December

  • Saw the Finance Committee of LegCo approve expenditure of $166.5 million for the environmental impact assessment, investigations and tunnel conveyance system design for HATS Stage 2A.

  • Published "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)" which sets out a comprehensive strategy for municipal solid waste management in Hong Kong for the ten years from 2005 to 2014.

  • Commenced implementation of the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme.

  • Completed on December 31 an incentive scheme encouraging diesel light buses to make an early switch to clean light buses. Around 55% of the diesel public light buses have switched to use LPG.

  • Launched a "Pay for Environment Scheme" to introduce comprehensive contractual requirements and to provide financial incentives for implementing enhanced pollution abatement measures in all future public construction projects.

  • Organised the first Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Recycling Day and "Zero Waste" walk to echo the Environmental Protection Festival 2005.

  • Broadcast a series of one-minute TV programmes and a 30-minute TV programme to promote waste reduction.

  • Launched the web-based Strategic Environmental Assessment knowledge centre and interactive 3-D continuous public engagement in EIA.




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