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LC: Speech by the Secretary for the Environment on amendments to the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) (Amendment) Regulation 2009

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, on the proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance to amend the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) (Amendment) Regulation 2009 at the Legislative Council meeting today (October 14):


     I rise to move the motion, as set out under my name, to amend the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) (Amendment) Regulation 2009 (the Amendment Regulation). The proposed amendment has been set out in the Agenda distributed to Members.

     The Amendment Regulation seeks to amend the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulation to extend the existing control on VOC-containing products to vehicle refinishing paints, vessel paints, pleasure craft paints, adhesives and sealants.  We plan to ban in phases starting from 1 January, 2010 the import and local manufacture of these products with VOC contents exceeding the prescribed limits.  We expect that extending the control to the concerned products, which forms part of our comprehensive programme to improve air quality and to help achieve the emission reduction target in 2010, will further reduce about 700 tonnes of VOC emission a year.

     We have consulted and taken into account the feedback of the trades in formulating the Amendment Regulation.  Notwithstanding this, in accordance with the recommendations of the Subcommittee formed to scrutinise the Amendment Regulation, we agreed to further consult the trades on the proposal relating to vehicle refinishing paints in response to the concerns raised by the trades during the scrutiny process.

     Specifically, the trades have two concerns.  First, they are concerned over the reliability of the supply of certain compliant vehicle refinishing paints proposed in the Amendment Regulation, as currently they are only produced in the United States and are not available from the trades' existing supply network.  Secondly, the trades are concerned about the sufficiency of the lead time for the switch to compliant products.  To address these concerns, we have accepted the suggestions of the trades to relax VOC content limits of the relevant vehicle refinishing paints to the levels adopted by the European Union, and postpone the implementation by one year to 1 October, 2011.  

     The proposed relaxation would lead to a decrease of about 35 tonnes of VOC emission reduction in 2010.  According to our current estimation, the VOC emission in 2010 is 31,035 tonnes, which is slightly higher than our original reduction target of 31,000 tonnes VOC emission.  However, given this 35 tonnes emission reduction amounts only to about 0.1% of the target emission level in 2010, the effect of the proposed relaxation would only be ascertained by the time of compiling the 2010 emissions figures.

     Reducing the emission of VOCs will go along way to improving air quality.  It is also a worldwide trend to tighten the VOC content limits of vehicle refinishing paints.  We will therefore take on board the Subcommittee's suggestion to review the feasibility to tighten the content limits one year after implementation of the control on vehicle refinishing paints.

     We also propose to replace the definition of "importer" to make it clear that the coverage of "importer" would not be extended to retailers or purchasers, in response to Subcommittee's concern about the risk of a retailer or even a purchaser of a regulated product being caught under the definition of "importer".

     The amendment has the support of the Subcommittee.  I appeal to Members for support of the motion.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:51


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