Environment Bureau Environmental Protection Department ENVIRONMENT HONG KONG 2008
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8 Waste

 
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Mission

 

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.


A SUSTAINABLE STRATEGY FOR WASTE


Highlights in 2007
  • 766 housing estates and residential buildings were enlisted in the Programme on Source Separation of Domestic Waste by the end of 2007.
  • A Programme on Source Separation of Commercial and Industrial Waste was introduced.
  • The Hong Kong Second-hand Exchange web site was launched.
  • Guidelines on promoting green lunches in schools were released.
  • A two-month public consultation on a proposed 50-cent levy on plastic shopping bags received general support.
  • An EIA study on extending the North East New Territories Landfill was completed, and another EIA study was begun on extending the West New Territories Landfill.
  • One of the world's largest off-site landfill gas utilisation schemes was launched at the North East New Territories Landfill.
  • An EIA study on sludge treatment facilities was begun.
  • New Risk-Based Remediation Goals for dealing with contaminated land were adopted.

Successful waste management necessitates that a careful and comprehensive balance be attained. On the one hand, waste reduction efforts need to be maximised. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is pressing ahead with programmes that encourage every person in every sector of the community to reduce waste. On the other hand, outlets are still needed to handle the waste we produce, however effective we are at reducing it. The EPD is making efforts to ensure that sufficient facilities are available to collect, recycle, treat and dispose of Hong Kong's municipal waste. All of these goals are being approached simultaneously, and as a matter of urgency, because local landfills are rapidly running out of space. As we reduce the volume of waste, we will be able to extend the life of our strategic landfills and further advance our waste management strategy to a more sustainable and environmentally sound footing.

A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)

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The waste problem in Hong Kong

Solid Waste Disposal 2007

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Hong Kong's three strategic landfills will be filled up one by one around the early to mid 2010s. There is little time to hesitate in addressing this problem. The Government published the "Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste in Hong Kong (2005 -2014)" (Policy Framework) in 2005 to resolve targets for reducing waste and to ensure that local waste management can be sustainable, not only in the immediate future, but also in the long run. We have made some notable progress.

In 2007, 45 per cent of municipal solid waste was recovered for the purpose of recycling or re-use. Domestic waste loads at landfills also fell by 4 per cent. However, waste generated from the commercial and industrial sectors increased due to the robust economic growth and strong tourism influx. This contributed to a 1.6 per cent increase in the total municipal solid waste disposed of at landfills in 2007.


Source separation of waste

One of the cornerstones of the Policy Framework is the source separation of waste. A Programme on Source Separation of Domestic Waste was launched in 2005 to bring waste separation facilities closer to where people live and broaden the types of recyclables to be recovered. The goal is to extend the programme to cover 80 per cent of the population by 2010. By the end of 2007, we had enrolled 766 housing estates in the programme, covering 42 per cent of the population (our target was 700 estates). The programme is achieving positive results: participating estates have reported an average 10 per cent reduction in waste sent to landfills.

Poster

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The source separation programme initially focused on domestic waste because of the poorer recovery rate compared to commercial and industrial (C&I) waste. More than 60 per cent of C&I waste is recycled. However, the growth in C&I waste loads has highlighted the need to do even better. The source separation of waste programme was extended to this sector in October 2007 to encourage source separation in the workplace. More than 300 buildings have signed up, including commercial and government office blocks, shopping arcades, industrial buildings, warehouses and car parks.

Ms Anissa WONG, Permanent Secretary for the Environment, officiates at the opening ceremony of the The Forum on Source Separation of Waste cum Award Presentation Ceremony.

Ms Anissa WONG, Permanent Secretary for the Environment, officiates at the opening ceremony of the The Forum on Source Separation of Waste cum Award Presentation Ceremony.



Other initiatives to reduce waste

Expanding the reach of recycling programmes is the first step to reducing waste. We also have to ensure there is enough space for waste recovery; that people have sufficient incentives to participate; and that manufacturers and other producers recognise their responsibility to help reduce waste.

More space in buildings would make it easier for residents to separate their waste for recycling, so we are amending the Building Regulations to make it mandatory for new domestic buildings and the domestic part of new composite buildings to provide a refuse storage and material recovery room on each floor. Municipal solid waste charges could also provide an incentive for the public to participate in waste separation and recovery. In this connection, we are planning to undertake a comprehensive baseline study to collect key information for reference in developing a practicable charging scheme.

On-going publicity is essential because it helps to ensure that everyone is aware of how and why they should recycle. Our community awareness activities have adopted waste reduction as a central theme. This was further bolstered in 2007 with the launch of the Hong Kong Second-hand Exchange web site to promote the exchange of used items.

While consumers and other product end-users can contribute through the source separation programmes, producers and suppliers also have a duty to reduce waste. Producer responsibility schemes (PRSs) provide a framework for manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to share responsibility in reducing, recovering and recycling certain products.

In this respect, we plan to introduce a 50-cent environmental levy on plastic shopping bags to address the problem of indiscriminate use of plastic shopping bags. The levy scheme will cover chain or large supermarkets, convenience stores and personal health and beauty stores. A two-month public consultation on the proposal was carried out in mid-2007 and received general support from the public and other stakeholders. Legislation to support the proposal and provide a framework for mandatory PRSs will be unveiled in 2008.

Apart from plastic shopping bags, we introduced a voluntary PRS for rechargeable batteries in 2005 that has recovered 750 000 units in three years. Voluntary PRSs are also being developed for other products. In 2007, we reached a consensus with the computer and lighting trade to introduce voluntary PRSs for computer equipment and fluorescent lamps in 2008, and we plan to develop schemes for other products in the near future.


Treatment and disposal

Reducing waste helps to take the pressure off waste facilities, but it does not negate the need for waste treatment and disposal. At the end of the day, we still need landfills and we need to reduce the bulk of waste to extend the life of those landfills.

The EPD plans to introduce integrated waste management facilities that use incineration as the core technology to reduce waste volumes. These state of the art facilities have stringent emission controls and are adopted in other advanced countries, such as Japan and Germany. They will be developed in phases. The first phase would occupy ten hectares, have a treatment capacity of 3 000 tonnes per day and start operating in the mid-2010s. Two site options will be announced in 2008 and we will undertake detailed engineering and environmental studies to determine which is most suitable.

MVA Kiel Incinerators in Germany.

MVA Kiel Incinerators in Germany.

Waste treatment can also be applied to specific types of waste. Food waste comprises 28 per cent of the commercial and industrial waste loads at landfills so we are developing organic waste treatment facilities for that waste. A pilot plant with a four-tonne-per-day capacity will be commissioned in 2008 and one of the first things it will handle is food waste from the Olympic equestrian events. The results from the pilot plant will be used to develop two larger facilities handling 200 tonnes per day each. One, on Lantau Island, will start operating in the mid-2010s, and the other in North District in the late 2010s.

The proposed North East New Territories Landfill Extension.

The proposed North East New Territories Landfill Extension.
Finally, even when people produce less waste and that waste is reduced through treatment, there is still residue requiring disposal. Since the landfills are approaching their current capacity, we have earmarked $8.4 billion to extend that capacity. Feasibility and environmental  impact assessment studies were completed on the North East New Territories Landfill Extension in 2007, and similar studies are in progress for extending the South East New Territories Landfill and the West New Territories Landfill. Our aim is to commission the extensions in the early to mid-2010s, before the current sites run out of space.

Sustainable waste management is like a three-legged stool. Take away one of the legs – reduction, treatment or disposal – and you create an imbalance that puts a strain on our land resources and quality of life. Most people would prefer the issue of waste management was out of sight and out of mind, but sustainability cannot be achieved unless everyone takes responsibility for their waste and helps to protect public health and the environment.


Looking Ahead
Looking Ahead
 
  • The results of a site search for integrated waste management facilities will be announced.
  • 920 housing estates and buildings will be enlisted in the Programme on Source Separation of Domestic Waste by the end of 2008.
  • A Product Eco-responsibility Bill will be introduced in the Legislative Council.
  • Tenders will be invited for the follow-on contract of the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre including modification for co-treatment of clinical waste and upgrading of the air pollution control system in accordance with the latest stringent European Union emission standards.

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