The Way Forward
quo is not an option. Hong Kong will exhaust its landfill
space in the next 6 to 10 years. Land is scarce in Hong Kong,
and must be used wisely. We must find a sustainable system to
manage our MSW. We will continue to adopt a three-tier approach
to MSW management, namely: i) avoidance and minimisation; ii)
reuse, recovery and recycling; and iii) bulk reduction and disposal.
The Government's focus is, and will continue to be, on waste
avoidance and recovery, but bolder steps have to be taken to
improve the already high recovery rate.
|| The Government must
take the lead, while the public must take ownership.
The Government cannot solve the MSW problem alone. The public
must recognize the problem and work together to achieve a sustainable
way of life. The SDC has engaged a wide range of stakeholders
in an open, honest and broad-based discussion. This Policy Framework
for the ten years from 2005 to 2014 proposes the milestones
to be met by the Government and the public hand-in-hand.
the Strategy will Work
must follow the "polluter-pays" principle.
Making polluters pay makes sense from both economic and environmental
angles. The Government has made significant headway in putting
the "polluter-pays" principle at work in our charging
scheme on construction wastes. Yet, the absence of a charging
scheme for MSW, which is now dealt with by the public purse,
has fed a consumption-led lifestyle where old or surplus items
are casually thrown away. The environmental cost must return
to the equation in order to close the loop for a "circular
||We propose to impose an explicit charge
on MSW so that everyone can fully appreciate the significant
environmental costs entailed by a consumption-led lifestyle.
Placing a charge on MSW makes everyone in Hong Kong think
twice when making purchasing and disposal decisions that will
benefit their bottom line and also to make a commitment to
Hong Kong's well-being. It is this change in people's attitudes
towards waste and purchasing and disposal habits that is paramount
in reducing the flow of MSW to landfills.
||PRSs should be
put in place to ensure that "end-of-life" products
are recycled or properly treated. To complement our
efforts in minimizing and reducing waste through the charging
scheme, the community, including the consumers, the retailers,
the importers and the producers, must accept the responsibility
for recycling and treating "end-of-life" products
and materials in a sustainable manner. Overseas experience
has shown that PRSs not only divert a significant portion
of MSW away from precious landfills, but also help nurture
a recycling industry that creates jobs and generates economic
growth. As an advanced economy with green conscience, Hong
Kong should put PRSs in place.
bans can further protect our precious landfills. To
render our landfills more stable and alleviate long-term environmental
problems, we propose to ban specific products and materials
at landfills. Such bans would complement our efforts in PRSs
so that a stable source of used products and materials can
be fed to sustain our recycling industry in the long run.
||We shall adopt
state-of-the-art technology to treat unavoidable waste. While
our best efforts would be made in reducing and recycling waste,
the reality is that there will still be unavoidable waste
that needs proper treatment before disposal at the landfills.
Hong Kong should adopt state-of-the-art technology to treat
unavoidable waste in a cost-effective, yet environmentally
sustainable, manner. To catch up with international trends,
we propose incineration, which has been widely adopted overseas,
as the core technology for our final waste treatment, while,
of course, adopting stringent emission standards that command
and education are complementary to our policy tools.
We need to put in place appropriate legislation to implement
our policy tools. Yet, enforcement and sanction can only have
limited success without the public taking ownership of the
problem. Thus, sustained education programme is indispensable
in our overall strategy so that the community at large is
part of the solution of MSW management.
||Hong Kong's strategy towards sustainable
MSW management is underpinned by waste charging, PRSs and
landfill disposal bans. The Policy Framework shows how these
policy tools come together to achieve our overall objective.
is a top priority in our policy agenda. It is now the
time to step up our efforts in tackling the imminent MSW problem.
We have set out in this Policy Framework the proposed action
plan. We sincerely invite the community at large to share
our vision and tackle the problem at source. Only through
a shared vision and concerted efforts of the Government and
the public can we guarantee success in resolving our MSW problem.
Future is in Our Hands
||Let us plant the
seed of quality life for our future generations together.
Sustainable MSW management is not only about solving an imminent
problem, but also about a long-term investment for our future
generations. It is neither economically nor morally sound
to burden our children with cleaning up the mess we leave
behind. This Policy Framework calls for a wide range of actions,
and more importantly, an investment that is guaranteed a multi-fold
return for our children and their children. We invite you
all to face up to the challenge of changing our habits, and
work together to ensure that the vibrancy, prosperity and
natural beauty of Hong Kong is not a memory in the past, but
a reality in the future.