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LCQ9: Disposal of old TV sets upon digital TV broadcasting

    Following is a question by the Hon Daniel Lam and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (January 30):


     It has been reported that with the rollout of digital terrestrial television broadcasting by local television broadcasters, members of the public plan to replace their existing analogue television sets in the coming two years.  There have been comments expressing concerns that a large number of television sets will be disposed of and become electronic waste, causing environmental pollution problems.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has estimated the number of analogue television sets members of the public will dispose of in the coming two years;

(b) whether it will draw up guidelines and monitoring measures in respect of the proper handling of discarded television sets by the electronic product recycling industry, so as to reduce the pollution caused by such electronic waste to the environment; if so, of the relevant details; and

(c) given that the Government organises territory-wide Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling Days each year and donates the television sets collected to people in need in Hong Kong, whether the Government will consider donating some of the television sets collected to the people in need in places outside Hong Kong?


Madam President,

(a) The Government's policy is to introduce digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting progressively.  Following the launch of DTT on 31 December 2007, its coverage will be expanded in phases in the following five years.  In the meantime, the four original free TV channels continue to be simulcast in both analogue and digital format.  As such, existing television sets can continue to receive analogue broadcasting and, with the installation of suitable set-top boxes, can also receive DTT broadcasting, including the new digital channels.  The public therefore do not need to replace their television sets immediately. The Government plans to terminate analogue broadcasting in 2012, and the actual timing will depend on public response, as well as market and technological development.

     According to the statistics of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), over 80% of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (including television sets) are recovered and only about 20% would be disposed of at landfills.  Likewise, local and overseas experiences show that the replacement of electrical and electronic equipment would usually be a gradual process.  For example, the launch of a new Windows software in early 2007 and the introduction of liquid crystal display and plasma television sets a few years ago have not led to a massive replacement of computer equipment and television sets, nor has there been any noticeable increase in the landfill disposal of WEEE.  Taking into account the above experiences and factors, we expect that the public will replace their old television sets gradually as necessary in the future.

(b) Under the Waste Disposal Ordinance, operators of any disposal facilities for waste electronic products which are classified as chemical waste (including the discarded cathode ray tubes of television sets) are required to obtain a licence from the EPD.  Applicants are required to submit an operational plan detailing the waste handling methods, the operation of the facilities, the experience of the management personnel and the pollution control and monitoring measures, etc. for the EPD's consideration.  Licensed chemical waste disposal facilities must strictly comply with the licence terms and conditions to ensure that their operation will not cause any pollution to the environment.  The EPD will regularly inspect licensed disposal facilities. Non-compliance with the licence terms and conditions, or the disposal of chemical waste without a licence is an offence liable to a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for 6 months upon conviction.  Moreover, the generation of dust, noise, effluent discharge and waste, if any, during the operation of the disposal facilities is subject to control under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, the Noise Control Ordinance, the Water Pollution Control Ordinance and the Waste Disposal Ordinance respectively.  The operators of any disposal facilities must ensure that the operation of their workshops complies with the requirements of the above ordinances.

     In addition, the EPD has issued guidelines on the appropriate measures to be undertaken by importers or exporters of used electrical and electronic equipment, including proper inspection and repairing of such products, maintenance of proper records for such inspection and repairing works, proper packaging of such products before their shipment, etc.  These will facilitate operator's compliance with the import and export control requirements under the Waste Disposal Ordinance.  

(c) The EPD has been promoting the recovery and recycling of WEEE.  We have been engaging a social service organisation to organise a Trial Recovery Programme for Electrical Appliances (the Programme) since January 2003. We have also been organising an annual territory-wide WEEE Recycling Day since end 2005 to recover used computers and electrical appliances for donation to the needy or recycling.  Used electrical appliances (including old television sets) of better condition collected through these activities will be repaired and donated to the needy in Hong Kong through the social service organisation. The remaining appliances will be placed on charity sale with the proceeds ploughed back to the Programme to support its operation, or donated to the needy overseas through international charitable organisations.  In 2007, some 6,300 used electrical appliances were donated or placed on charity sale through the above arrangements.

Ends/Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:40


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