LCQ8: Treatment of food waste

     Following is a question by the Hon Tommy Cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Legislative Council meeting today (January 5):


     It was reported earlier that a private housing estate in Tung Chung had promoted waste reduction since 2007, including trying out a scheme on food waste recovery by hiring a food waste processor from an electrical appliance company at a monthly rental of $3,000 to handle food waste collected from 500 households participating in the scheme.  Although a reduction of about three tonnes of food waste can be achieved through the scheme each month, only a monthly refuse transportation fee of about $200 can be saved in return, which is very small compared to the rental paid.  It was also reported that the food waste processor had already reached its monthly maximum handling capacity at present, and if more households wished to join the scheme, the housing estate had to rent an additional food waste processor, revealing that the cost-effectiveness of handling household food waste in an environmental-friendly manner is low.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has compiled statistics on the number of housing estates providing food waste recovery services at present; if so, of the number involved; if not, whether it will conduct such a survey in future and assess the inclination of housing estates to participate in food waste recovery;

(b) given that the aforesaid above example has revealed the low cost-effectiveness of handling household food waste in an environmental-friendly manner, whether the authorities will formulate any financial assistance scheme or support measure, so as to increase incentives to attract more housing estates or residential buildings to join household food waste recovery schemes, thereby responding to the community's aspirations for green living; and

(c) of the progress of the project entitled "Waste To Food ? Community Trial Project of Kitchen Waste Recovery with Vermi-composting" conducted by the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden with subsidies provided by the authorities in 2009; whether the project has been extended to the household level; if not, of the reasons for that; if so, the number of housing estates or residential buildings participating in the project, and its cost-effectiveness of handling food waste?



(a) We note recently that several private estates have offered food waste treatment services within their estates on their own initiative. It shows that the environmental awareness of the public has been rising and many people are willing to reduce food waste disposal so as to reduce the pressure off of our landfills. We are greatly encouraged and happy to see the development of this trend. We are now collecting information of food waste treatment in private estates so as to learn more about their food waste collection and recycling practices.

(b) We have launched various education and publicity activities to enhance the awareness of the public and the business sectors about food waste avoidance and reduction. These initiatives include inviting all schools to sign a Green Lunch Charter to stop using disposable food containers and cutlery and adopt the on-site meal portioning approach where possible, so as to reduce food waste and protect the environment.  Moreover, by making use of the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), we have been supporting schools to implement on-site meal portioning and various education and promotion programmes for food waste reduction.  For example, in 2008, the ECF supported the "Save Food Day" activities to promote good eating culture and habit, and to encourage the public to reduce the portion of their food should they wish to eat less so as to avoid food wastage.

     On measures for recycling food waste, there are different treatment techniques and different modes of food waste collection for various types of food waste. At present, some 960 tonnes of food waste are generated from the commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors, which are more readily for separation at source for collection. To encourage the reduction of food waste in the private sector, the Environmental Protection Department has been implementing a "Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme" (the Scheme) with various sectors including property management companies, restaurant trade, food processing factories and shopping mall management companies.  Launched on June 1, 2010, the Scheme is looking into different modes of collection and treatment of food waste so as to develop feasible solution to tackle food waste and to promote wider use of on-site treatment equipment, thus alleviating pressure off of our landfills. We will carry out education programmes to help train the management and frontline staff of the C&I partners on good food waste reduction and management practices.  A Code of Practice on the management of food waste will be drawn up.  Sharing sessions and seminars will be held with the partners to help consolidate the experience gained on the avoidance and treatment of food waste.

     We are now planning for the development of two Organic Waste Treatment Facilities at Siu Ho Wan, North Lantau and Shaling, North District (design capacities would be 200 tonnes per day and 300 tonnes per day respectively).  We have been working with the major food waste generators of the C&I sectors to produce guidelines on the management and collection of food waste so as to facilitate their delivery of food waste to the future Organic Waste Treatment Facilities for treatment.  
     As for the domestic side, we will work with the relevant stakeholders to enhance publicity and education on food waste reduction.  In addition, we will explore the feasibility of making use of the ECF to support the provision of small scale on-site food waste treatment facilities in estates to further reduce the disposal of food waste.

(c) In 2009, the ECF allocated about $270,000 to the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden for the carrying out a project entitled "Waste to Food - Community Trial Project of Kitchen Waste Recovery with Vermi-composting" (the Project) from July 2009 to April 2010.  The Project is to test vermi-composting of food waste at the community level and to educate the public on related green concepts of food waste reduction and treatment.

     Under the Project, the organiser, through collaboration with four entities (school, community group, community garden and estate residents' organisation), set up vermi-composting boxes to educate the public on the related green concepts of food waste reduction and treatment.  The organiser also recruited 50 households in public housing estates, private estates and small village houses to join the Project and practice domestic vermi-composting.  It also held a series of public education activities, including seminars and exhibitions, to educate the public on the concepts of vermi-composting and food waste reduction.  According to the organiser, over five tonnes of food waste were treated and converted into compost for organic farming.

     On the whole, the Project fulfils the project objectives and requirements endorsed by the ECF.

Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:51