Schematic Diagram

1. Each year, Hong Kong produces millions of tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW). MSW requires efficient collection, transfer and disposal. In 2004, a total of 5.7 million tonnes were generated, of which 2.3 million tonnes (40%) were recovered and 3.4 million tonnes (60%) were disposed of at landfills. The latter is creating a real and pressing burden on the landfills. At the current rate of solid waste generation, our landfills will be full in 6 to 10 years, posing the question: what do we do with our waste then?
2. Clearly, Hong Kong must find a system of managing MSW now and in the years to come that is economically, financially and environmentally sound. As an advanced society, Hong Kong must recognise that tackling its waste problems is part of the much larger challenge of becoming a sustainable city. In response to this challenge, the Government has developed this Policy Framework on the measures to manage MSW, their implications and implementation for the 10 years from now until 2014.

But what happens beyond the timeframe of the Policy Framework? We must understand that sustainable development is not about just 10 years, or 20 years, or even 50 years but a long-term quest that will ensure that future generations enjoy the social, economic and environmental benefits that we have now. It is with this fundamental philosophy foremost in mind that the Government has framed the Policy Framework to meet these needs.




The Policy Framework
4. The Policy Framework describes the urgency of our growing MSW problems, pinpoints what problems and pressures are facing Hong Kong in MSW management, and explains how this strategy impinges on a healthy future. It presses home the reasons for the concerted efforts of the community - households, businesses and industries, as well as the Government - to solve the problems, while outlining measures and initiatives already underway and future plans for discussion and comment.

Waste separation to recover recyclables is simple to follow.
Waste separation to recover recyclables is simple to follow
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5. MSW management is set in the important context of working towards a sustainable future, and the Policy Framework describes how it fits into the process that has led to the Government's first strategy devoted specifically to sustainable development. We set out the strategy developed directly as a result of the engagement process conducted by the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC). We also spell out what individuals as members of households, workers or owners of businesses, and the Hong Kong community as a whole will be required to do to accomplish their shares of the efforts in bringing MSW levels down.
6. That the focus of the Policy Framework is on one kind of waste, specifically MSW; does not imply that other kinds of waste are less important. On the contrary, the Policy Framework gives due consideration to a stream of waste that is significant in its volume, its economic, social and environmental impacts and its implications for Hong Kong's future.



Sustainable Development on MSW Management

7. Growing concerns about Hong Kong's MSW have been voiced at least since 1994. The Waste Reduction Study completed then set out recommendations based on extensive research into policy options and other methods to drastically cut the waste volume. These recommendations were carried forward in the Waste Reduction Framework Plan (WRFP) promulgated in 1998.
8. The Government has been working towards delivery of the targets set out in the WRFP. We are committed to reviewing the WRFP, and since we are approaching the end of the planning horizon of the WRFP, the Government has to formulate a new strategy. In recognition of the scale of the waste problem facing Hong Kong, it was fitting that solid waste management was chosen by the SDC in 2004 as one of three pilot areas, along with renewable energy and urban living space, in the engagement process to obtain stakeholders' views on what might be done to promote sustainable practices in these important areas.
9. Debates, discussions and concerns expressed by business people, community leaders, academics, non-government organisations (NGOs), government representatives, students and members of the general public came to conclusions as follows:
We should aim to reduce waste in the first place by using fewer materials or avoiding the use of certain materials altogether;
We need to accept that there is a financial implication of dealing with waste in Hong Kong and that we should be prepared to pay waste disposal costs;
Involving businesses through producer responsibility schemes (PRSs) will help promote recycling and waste reduction at source;
The simple step of separating our waste into reusable materials and materials that require disposal will result in more MSW being recovered for either reuse or recycling; and
The burden on Hong Kong's landfills can be reduced through reuse, recovery, recycling and the use of waste treatment technologies.
10. In its report Making Choices for Our Future: Report on the Engagement Process for a First Sustainable Development Strategy (February 2005), the SDC formalised these points into a set of recommendations on promoting sustainable practices in solid waste management.



Recommendations of the SDC on Solid Waste Management
1. The Government should further promote solid waste recovery and recycling.
2. Legislation for PRSs should be introduced.
3. Solid waste recovery targets of 45% and 50% by 2009 and 2014 respectively should be achieved in Hong Kong.
4. The Government should identify alternative forms of waste treatment, in order to reduce the amount of solid waste that is disposed of in landfills.
5. The Government should introduce legislation on direct MSW charges, in order to encourage households and businesses to reduce the waste volume.

The Government should review the current waste management mechanism.


Table 1. The SDC states the wishes of the stakeholders


11. The importance of using stakeholder-based discussion in the open and broad-based consultation as employed by the SDC cannot be over-emphasised. By allowing the community at large the opportunity to articulate their values and aspirations on waste and on how to secure a sustainable future for Hong Kong, it gives them ownership - and, ultimately, responsibility. Hence, it is possible for all of us to see where and how we fit into the waste generation and management structure.
12. On the Government's part, the process of engagement has provided important insight into both what stakeholders and the wider community understand of Hong Kong's MSW problems, and how they think the problems may best be managed.

With this feedback firmly in hand, the Government needs to build on the momentum over this critical process in an area of fundamental importance to all our future : this is the importance of the Policy Framework.




Compost produced from organic waste can replace chemical 
Compost produced from organic waste can replace chemical fertilizer
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