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LCQ2: Integrated Waste Management Facilities

     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (November 10):


     As recommended in A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014), the Government will develop Integrated Waste Management Facilities (IWMF) with advanced incineration as the core technology for the treatment of unavoidable waste.  It has been learnt that the Government is finalising the environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies for the two potential sites identified (i.e. Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau to the south of the Lantau Island) for IWMF, and will release the EIA reports by the end of this year.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities will adopt other principles, standards or new technologies, apart from the Government's EIA reports, in determining the final choice of the site; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities have considered adding more potential sites on top of the above two sites to prepare for tackling the problem of solid waste;

(b) in view of the concern of local residents arising from the Government's proposal to extend the landfill in Tseung Kwan O, whether the authorities have planned how to consult the local residents after the site for IWMF has been selected; if so, of the scope and the timetable of consultation; and

(c) given that it has been reported that Tokyo, Taipei and Singapore all dispose more than 50% of their solid waste by incineration, whether the Government will make reference to such ratio and plan to dispose a certain ratio of solid waste by incineration; if it will, of the proposed ratio and the timetable for implementing such a plan?



(a)  As set out in the "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)", we have clearly indicated that we would take concerted efforts in waste reduction, recycling and implementation of modern waste management facilities to tackle the solid waste problem.  In recent years, the Environmental Protection Department has been promoting domestic waste recovery to encourage source separation of domestic waste, and launched the producer responsibility scheme as well as various related public education and publicity programs.  As a result, the overall municipal solid waste (MSW) recovery rate in Hong Kong has been raised to 49% in 2009, and waste disposal in our landfills has been decreased. Although we have been active in promoting waste reduction and recycling, our present practice of disposing almost all the non-recyclable waste at landfills is not sustainable.  We need to develop modern Integrated Waste Management Facilities (IWMF), which will adopt incineration as the core technology and incorporate waste sorting and recycling facility.  The IWMF will adopt the most advanced management practices and the emissions so discharged would comply with the most stringent European emission standards.  

     In 2007/08, we conducted a detailed site selection study to identify potential sites throughout Hong Kong for developing the IWMF.  Among the initial selected list of eight potential sites, we have recommended two, namely Tsang Tsui, Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau for detailed study.  At present, we are conducting detailed Engineering Investigation and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Studies on these two potential sites.  The assessment covers environmental impacts (such as noise, air quality, water quality, ecology and landscape), engineering works (such as site formation and reclamation, geology and wastewater treatment), transportation of waste and ash, construction period, expenses and costs etc.  At the present stage we do not have other proposed sites for constructing the IWMF.  That said, with the advance in technology and new development in solid waste management, we will actively examine other potential sites and facilities if necessary.  However, we should proceed the planning of the IWMF with these two initially selected sites, as soon as possible so as not to cause any delay to the development of the IWMF.

(b) In the recent discussions on how the MSW should be treated following the proposed extension of the Tseung Kwan O Landfill, we have noted that in general the public appreciate and agree that we should change our current mode of waste treatment which relies solely on landfilling, and that we should through adopting advanced incineration technology or other effective, advanced technologies to treat non-recyclable waste.  We have been in touch with the relevant District Councils (DC), local communities and political parties on the proposed IWMF.  For instance, from February to May 2008, we briefed Tuen Mun and Islands DCs on the Site Selection Report and explained to them in detail the proposed treatment technologies and emission standards.  In 2009, we made a study visit to Tokyo and Osaka with Tuen Mun and Islands District Councillors to see how waste and sludge were treated with advanced incineration technologies in Japan.

     The proposed IWMF will meet the most stringent international emission standards for the protection of public health and the environment.  The facilities will also create job opportunities for the community.  We will include in the project environmental education and leisure facilities as well as other facilities which will benefit the community.  Moreover, it would have pleasant design so that it will blend in with the environment of the community and surrounding areas.  The development of the sludge treatment facility in Tuen Mun (the project contract has recently been awarded) has followed these principles. Following the completion of the EIA study of the proposed IWMF, we will engage the relevant District Council with deeper discussion so as to reach an acceptable plan for taking forward the IWMF development.   Then we will seek funding from the Legislative Council to commence the development work.  We sincerely hope that the Legislative Council will render support to our funding application.  

(c) In 2009, on average about 17,700 tonnes of MSW were generated in Hong Kong per day, of which about 49% were recovered and recycled, and the remaining 51%, that is, about 9,000 tonnes of MSW per day, were disposed of at the three landfills in Hong Kong.  The treatment capacity of the proposed IWMF is 3,000 tonnes per day.  Subject to the smooth progress of the planning and funding procedures, we expect that the first IWMF will be commissioned by mid-2010s.  Regarding whether we need to develop more IWMF, it would hinge on the effectiveness of the community's effort in reducing and recycling waste, and the amount of the waste so remains.  In addition, we need to discuss this issue with the political parties, Legislative Council Members, and the public.  Separately, the Administration has started planning for the Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTF), which will adopt anaerobic digestion and composting technologies, to process food waste.  The first phase of the OWTF, which will handle about 200 tonnes of food waste per day, is expected to commence operation in 2014. We would submit this proposal to the Environmental Affairs Panel for discussion before the end of this year, and hope to receive the Legislative Council's support for this proposal.

     In response to the recent public concern on the waste treatment issues, we are reviewing the strategies on municipal solid waste management, and will also discuss with political parties on the matter with a view to achieving consensus on the strategy, including how to enhance waste reduction and recycling, and to apply modern technologies to improve the whole package of solution. We plan to submit the review result to the Legislative Council for discussion by the end of this year or early next year.

Ends/Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:17


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