To safeguard the health and welfare
of the community from adverse environmental effects associated
with the handling and disposal of wastes by developing a sustainable
waste management strategy, providing waste management facilities
and enforcing the controls in the Waste Disposal Ordinance.
restored landfill at Tseung Kwan O has a runway for model planes
Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste
(2005-2014)", outlining a comprehensive package of
measures to deal with municipal solid waste.
Passed the Waste Disposal (Charges for Disposal of Construction
Waste) Regulation to enable charges to be levied for the disposal
of construction waste at landfills, sorting facilities and public
fill reception facilities.
Introduced floor-based source separation of waste in housing
Commissioned a low-level radioactive waste storage facility
on Siu A Chau.
Introduced a bill to control the disposal of clinical waste.
The 3Rs slogan
of "Reduce, Re-use, Recycle" has been at the heart of our
public education efforts on waste. This catchy phrase has
helped focus attention on the unsustainable levels of waste
being generated in Hong Kong. Yet it leaves out a crucial
overarching element, that of "Responsibility". Hong Kong's
landfills are rapidly running out of space and our waste loads
keep increasing. The only way to solve this crisis is if everybody,
consumers and producers alike, urgently takes responsibility
for reducing waste.
|A comprehensive package
of measures will address our waste problem.
the crucial overarching element to 3Rs.
The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is seeking
to provide the necessary facilities and education so the community
can fulfil its responsibilities. In December 2005 we released
Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste
(2005 -2014)", a comprehensive package that addresses
every stage of waste generation and disposal. Goals have been
set and strategies outlined so we can achieve a rapid reduction
in waste loads. In order for the Policy Framework to succeed,
though, everybody will need to understand the urgency of the
waste problem and their role in helping to address it.
|Hong Kong’s imminent waste problem.
||Trends of Hong Kong waste generation
between 1996 and 2004.
Waste loads in Hong Kong are growing at a much faster rate than
the population. Over the past nine years municipal solid waste loads
have increased by about three per cent annually while the population
has grown on average by only 0.9 per cent. Our consumption-led lifestyle
is putting enormous pressure on the three existing landfills. In
early 2005, it was estimated the three existing landfills would
be full in six to 10 years. Furthermore, if waste loads continue
to increase at the current trend, we will need an additional 400
hectares of landfill space to meet our waste disposal needs up to
2030. Hong Kong has hardly any suitable sites for new landfills.
Clearly, we need a more sustainable way of dealing with our waste.
The EPD has made it a top priority to reduce waste loads and for
many years has been working towards this end. In 2005, our efforts
received a significant boost when waste management received high-level
recognition from two sources. First, in May, the Government set
out the broad strategic direction on solid waste management in the
First Sustainable Development Strategy for Hong Kong".
Then in October the Chief Executive gave it priority in his Policy
Address and Policy Agenda. Riding on this positive momentum, the
EPD has been able to push a number of initiatives forward, as outlined
in the Policy Framework.
Our goal is to reduce the total of domestic, commercial and
Our chief goal is to reduce the sum total of domestic, commercial
and industrial waste, including waste that is recycled and
landfilled, by one per cent per year from now until 2014,
as against the current three per cent growth rate. We also
want to increase the overall recovery rate of waste to 50
per cent by 2014 from 40 per cent today. Finally, we aim to
reduce the proportion of municipal solid waste (MSW) dumped
at landfills to less than 25 per cent as against 60 per cent
today. Achieving these goals will require a concerted strategy
that embraces all stages of waste generation, as well as the
full support and participation of the public.
The first step in reducing waste is to start at source, where waste
can be minimised, recycled and recovered. Commercial and industrial
operators already do quite well, recovering some 60 per cent of
their waste. But the recovery rate for domestic waste is low, only
14 per cent. Waste recycling in housing estates, introduced in 1998,
helped raise the rate a little by providing bins outside blocks
for waste paper, aluminium cans and plastic bottles. The EPD is
now seeking to bring source separation of waste closer to people's
homes to make it easier to participate. In 2005 a floor-based source
separation scheme was launched and aims to have 80 per cent of the
population in Hong Kong participating in the scheme by 2010 (see
box). Significantly, the range of recyclables collected is being
vastly increased. The goal is to recover 26 per cent of domestic
waste by 2012, nearly double the current rate.
The EPD recognises that in
asking people to reduce waste, we need to make recycling more
accessible. Our Waste Recycling Campaign in Housing Estates
placed collection bins in every block. Now, with source separation,
we are placing bins, racks or bags on every floor of apartment
blocks where possible. The types of recyclables collected
have also been expanded from waste paper, aluminium cans and
plastic bottles to any type of recyclable material. By the
end of 2005, 223 housing estates had signed up for floor-based
source separation, representing 1.1 million people. In some
estates, the programme helped them to increase the quantity
of recyclables collected by more than 50 per cent and reduce
the waste they sent to landfills by about three per cent.
The EPD aims to have 80 per cent of the population in Hong
Kong participating in the source separation scheme by 2010.
source separation in housing estates facilitates households
to separate their wastes.
The EPD is also seeking to
encourage more recycling of waste electrical and electronic
equipment. A pilot recycling scheme has been set up at the
Kowloon Bay Refuse Transfer Station, which has been temporarily
closed for a few years. The Caritas and St James' Settlement
charities are refurbishing the equipment and giving it to
the needy or, if it is not reparable, dismantling it for spare
parts and recycling. The scheme is helping to pave the way
for mandatory producer responsibility. The EPD is also co-operating
with the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry to develop
a six-month pilot scheme to recycle computers.
We are also seeking to provide outlets for recovered waste
by enhancing the Hong Kong-based recycling industry. More
than 90 per cent of recovered materials currently are exported
for recycling, a tenuous situation given the volatility of
market demand and the international trend towards restricting
trans-boundary movements of waste, even recyclable waste.
In recent years the Government has provided short-term tenancies
to recyclers at affordable prices. We are also building the
EcoPark in Tuen Mun, where from the end of 2006 operators
will have a permanent location for recycling locally produced
waste (see box).
The 20-hectare EcoPark in Tuen Mun will provide
long-term land at an affordable rent for local recyclers,
thus helping Hong Kong to make use of its recovered materials.
Currently a lot of the recyclable waste collected in Hong
Kong is exported to the Mainland for recycling. It is hoped
the EcoPark will help to advance recycling operations in Hong
Kong so more recycling is done here, using local waste to
make local products. A proposal for the EcoPark received general
support from the Legislative Council in 2005. Funding will
be sought in early 2006, with the aim of getting the first
phase of the park ready for occupation by the end of the year.
Apart from reducing and recycling waste at source, we are introducing
incentives through user pay charges and producer responsibility
schemes. Everyone who generates waste will be responsible for its
management, a policy that enshrines the polluter pays principle
and encourages people to throw away less. In December 2005 the Construction
Waste Disposal Charging Scheme came into operation (see
box). We are now working on a proposal for municipal solid waste
disposal charges, hoping to introduce a bill into the Legislative
Council in 2007. Needless to say, the measure requires the public
to appreciate the urgency of our waste problem and see the wisdom
in making polluters pay for management of their waste.
A milestone in waste management was achieved
in January 2005 when the Waste Disposal (Charges for Disposal
of Construction Waste) Regulation was passed to allow charges
to be levied for the disposal of construction waste. The aim
is to reflect the polluter pays principle and encourage people
to reduce construction waste. High priority was given to construction
waste because it accounts for up to 40 per cent of the total
solid waste disposed of at landfills.
From 20 January 2006,
construction waste producers will be charged $27 per tonne
to deposit inert waste at public fill reception facilities,
$100 to deposit waste with more than 50 per cent inert content
at sorting facilities, and $125 to deposit waste containing
50 per cent or less inert content at landfills. Construction
waste with more than 50 per cent inert content will not be
accepted at landfills and will be diverted to public fill
reception facilities or sorting facilities. The EPD has worked
closely with all key stakeholders to gain acceptance for the
charges through meetings and numerous briefings with the trade,
which is generally supportive of the charging scheme.
Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme takes effect in
truck driver hands chit to the weighbridge operator at a landfill
Producer responsibility schemes (PRSs) require manufacturers, importers,
retailers and consumers to recover and recycle products that otherwise
end up in the waste stream. A pilot scheme for rechargeable batteries
has been carried out with the trade to test the viability of voluntary
PRSs and in 2006 we will introduce a bill into the Legislative Council
to provide a legal framework for mandatory PRSs. We aim to introduce
regulations for waste tyres, plastic shopping bags and electrical
and electronic equipment in 2007; for packaging materials and beverage
containers in 2008; and for rechargeable batteries in 2009. With
other outlets available for these products, we would then consider
imposing landfill disposal bans on some of these end-of-life products
so as to make better use of our landfills as the final repository
of unavoidable and properly treated wastes.
|The implementation programme
for some of the Producer Responsibility Schemes.
|A food waste composter turns
biodegradable waste into compost.
Tackling waste at source and providing incentives to promote recycling
will help reduce waste loads by 50 per cent by 2014. That still
leaves some waste that is unavoidable. The EPD is seeking to properly
treat this waste and reduce its bulk so less landfill space is taken
up. Based on the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Waste
Management Facilities, we will adopt a multi-technology approach.
Source-separated biodegradable waste from commercial and industrial
establishments will be given biological treatment and may be turned
into compost. Mixed municipal solid waste will be treated by mechanical-biological
treatment (MBT) and thermal treatment. MBT will reduce the volume
by about 50 per cent through further sorting out of recyclables
and stabilising the biodegradable fraction. The remaining waste
not treated by MBT will receive thermal treatment, probably incineration,
which would reduce its bulk by about 90 per cent. The EPD believes
modern incineration would be a safe, acceptable solution in Hong
Kong, as proven by its use in many advanced countries, such as Germany,
The Netherlands, Singapore and Japan. We intend to have waste treatment
facilities commissioned within the next decade.
The EPD has devised a cradle-to-grave solution
for managing clinical waste, which currently is disposed of
in special trenches at two of our landfills. An amendment
bill was presented to the Legislative Council in May 2005
requiring the waste to be properly segregated, packaged, labelled,
collected and treated at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre.
The amendment bill also included proposed
measures to tighten the control of waste imports and exports.
Significantly, it would be an offence to dispose of imported
non-hazardous waste in Hong Kong landfills without proper
authorisation. Authorisation would not be granted unless the
applicant could meet very stringent requirements and he would
need to pay the administrative and disposal costs. To formalise
the Basel Ban which the EPD has administratively implemented
since 1998, it was proposed to stipulate in the WDO that no
import permit would be issued for importing hazardous waste
coming from developed countries.
If we can introduce all of these measures in tandem, the proportion
of municipal solid waste disposed of in landfills would drop to
less than 25 per cent by 2014, as against 60 per cent at present.
Landfills would still be necessary as the final repositories for
residual waste that cannot be recycled or further treated - and
we are pursuing an $8.3 billion programme to extend the existing
landfills - but they would not be the main solution.
The future of waste management in Hong Kong rests with the community’s
acceptance of the fourth 'R', Responsibility. Everybody needs to
strive to reduce the amount of waste they generate and separate
much of the rest for recycling. They must also accept that they
are polluters and are subject to the polluter pays principle. It
is unfair and bad economics to continue providing free disposal.
Those who seek to help the environment and reduce their waste will
save money. Those who continue to be profligate must be made to
A low-level radioactive waste storage facility
was commissioned on Siu A Chau in 2005, enabling the waste
to be moved out of urban areas. Its storage capacity is estimated
to be sufficient to accommodate existing and future waste
arisings in Hong Kong for the next 100 years.
Introduce a Product Eco-responsibility Bill into the
Legislative Council to provide a legal framework for
Producer Responsibility Schemes (PRSs).
Seek views of stakeholders on introducing PRSs for
waste tyres, plastic shopping bags and electrical and
Introduce the clinical waste regulation to control
the collection and disposal of clinical waste.
Expand the territory-wide Source Separation Programme
for domestic waste and introduce floor-based source
separation in 470 estates.
Commission Phase 1 of the EcoPark, developed exclusively
for the environmental and recycling industry, ready
Start charging for disposal of construction waste at
waste disposal facilities.
Commission restoration facilities at the closed landfill
at Pillar Point Valley.