'A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)'
published in 2005 sets out the strategy and measures to address the municipal solid
waste problem in Hong Kong over the next decade and proposes simple yet effective
economic tools that will create incentives for the community to recycle more and
Waste reduction and recovery has always played an important role in waste
management, resulting in the export of substantial quantities of recovered waste
materials for re-manufacturing outside Hong Kong. In all, about 2.7 million tonnes of
waste materials — including paper, metals and plastic — were exported in 2006,
generating export earnings of about $5.3 billion.
The Government is also promoting local recycling, with the development of a
20-hectare EcoPark in Tuen Mun Area 38 for exclusive use by the recycling and
environmental industry. The EcoPark is being developed in two phases with eight and
12 hectares of land respectively. The first batch of lots in Phase I was made available
for leasing in December 2006. Phase II will be commissioned in 2009.
To encourage waste reduction, the Government also aims to implement the
polluter pays principle through solid waste disposal charges and producer
responsibility schemes (PRS). To this end, a trial scheme was launched in November
2006 to examine the logistical arrangement for municipal solid waste charging. The
Government has also commissioned consultancy studies on the PRS on plastic
shopping bags, vehicle tyres and waste electrical and electronic equipment. The study
on the PRS on plastic shopping bags has been completed, and the Government will
put forward a detailed proposal shortly.
All municipal solid waste is disposed of at three large modern landfills in the
New Territories, which are operated to high environmental standards.
The community disposed of about 9 280 tonnes of municipal solid waste every
day in 2006. Of this, 6 630 tonnes was domestic waste and 2 650 tonnes was
commercial and industrial waste. On average, each person in Hong Kong disposed of
about 1.33 kilograms of municipal solid waste daily.
In 2006, it was estimated that the three landfills would be full in five to nine
years. Feasibility and environmental impact assessment studies on possible landfill
extension schemes were underway.
Hong Kong has 13 old landfills, which have been restored for safety and
environmental reasons. Recreational facilities on three of the restored sites have been
developed. Plans to develop recreational facilities on seven sites are in progress.
Refuse Transfer Stations
Municipal solid waste is collected and delivered to refuse transfer stations by
refuse collection vehicles and containerised and then taken to landfills by sea or land
transport. A network of six modern transfer stations and one set of Outlying Islands
Transfer Facilities handles 5 581 tonnes of waste every day. About 75 per cent of
Hong Kong's domestic waste is delivered via this network to landfills.
Chemical and Special Wastes
All chemical waste producers are required to pack, label and store their chemical
wastes correctly before disposal at licensed treatment facilities. A trip ticket system
tracks the movement of chemical waste from its origin to the final disposal point.
In 2006, a daily average of 129 tonnes of chemical waste, including waste from
sea-going vessels, was treated at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre on Tsing Yi
Island. A government contractor operates the treatment centre. Waste producers
using its services are required to pay part of the treatment cost.
Upon upgrading of the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre to the latest European
Union emission standards, the Government will make arrangements for the centre to
receive clinical waste.
The construction industry generated about 29 890 tonnes of construction waste
every day. Of that, about 86 per cent was suitable for re-use. The construction waste
charging scheme was introduced in December 2005 to provide an economic incentive
for this. The Government also plans to deliver the inert materials to the Mainland for
re-use in reclamation projects in 2007.
Large-scale Waste Treatment Facilities
Hong Kong has to deal with a large volume of non-recyclable waste and needs
new state-of-the-art, cost-effective facilities to treat such waste and reduce its
volume. A multi-technology approach should be adopted so that wastes of different
nature can be dealt with by the most suitable technology. The Government aims to
commission the large-scale waste treatment facilities in the mid-2010s. However,
even with such facilities, residual waste will still need to be disposed of at landfills.
Import and Export of Waste
Controls on the import and export of waste under the Waste Disposal Ordinance
ban the importation of hazardous waste from developed countries (mainly members
of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European
Union). The controls are in line with the Basel Convention on the Control of
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
The convention's main control mechanism requires notification and consent by
authorities of the states of origin, destination and transit before the shipment of
hazardous or non-recyclable waste can begin.
In January 2000, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the
HKSAR and the Mainland to strengthen control of hazardous waste movement
between the two places.
In 2006, there were 49 prosecutions for illegal import and export of waste, with
fines totalling $630,000. Most of these offences were related to trans-shipment of
hazardous electronic waste through Hong Kong to other places in the Asia-Pacific
Floating Refuse in the Harbour
The Marine Department deploys a fleet of about 70 contractors' vessels to
collect floating refuse and refuse from vessels. In 2006, 16 210 tonnes were
collected. The Government has also tackled the floating refuse problem by raising
public awareness through publicity and educational activities, and deterring marine
littering by means of enforcement.
Hong Kong's development projects continue to generate vast quantities of
dredged mud that is unsuitable for reclamation or other uses (9.2 million cubic
metres in 2006). It is dumped at sea in specified mud disposal areas under a permit
system. Regular government monitoring is undertaken to ensure that dumping
operations do not create an unacceptable impact on the marine environment. The
EPD maintains strict control over dumping operations under the Dumping at Sea
Ordinance. These operations follow the requirements of the London Convention on
Marine dumping permits allow operations to be carried out only by a vessel
equipped with an automatic self-monitoring device to allow the authorities to trace
any illegal dumping in a cost-effective manner. Moreover, the department's inspectors
operate frequent patrols.
Monitoring and Investigation
The assessment of progress towards achieving policy goals is one of the EPD's
key activities. Its routine monitoring and special investigations form the basis for
much of the strategic planning, provision of facilities and statutory controls. The
department has 94 sampling stations in the marine waters, including enclosed bays
and typhoon shelters, and another 82 stations for inland waters. It also keeps 41
bathing beaches under surveillance.
The water quality monitoring programme provides a comprehensive record of
the chemical, physical and microbiological quality of Hong Kong's waters. The
monitoring data is depicted in the annual water quality reports available on the EPD's
home page. Information on the latest water quality of the major marine and river
stations is also published on a monthly basis on the home page. The latest water
quality grades of bathing beaches are issued on a weekly basis to the media and
frequently updated on the department's website.