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LCQ9: Recycling of waste glass

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):


     Regarding the recovery of discarded glass products, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the policies and measures in place to encourage and implement the recovery of discarded glass products at present;

(b) whether it has collated statistics or made assessment on the daily amount of glass products discarded in Hong Kong at present and the space at landfills taken up by such wastes every year;

(c) whether it has conducted studies on advocating and encouraging operators of tourist attractions and restaurants to recover on their own initiatives glass bottles for recycling (eg producing environment-friendly construction materials); if so, of the study results; if not, whether it can conduct such studies expeditiously; and

(d) whether it has studied the reasons why glass-related environmental protection industries are not popular in Hong Kong; whether it has considered assisting the glass recovery and recycling industry by offering tax concession or other financial assistance?



(a) and (b) In 2010, an average of 374 tonnes of waste glass was disposed of at landfills in Hong Kong everyday, which accounted for about 4.1% of the total disposal of municipal solid waste.  80% of such waste glass was waste glass containers.  All along the Government has been encouraging different sectors to participate in separation of waste for recycling (including waste glass containers) so as to reduce waste and promote the recycling of resources.  Our policy is to encourage and practise the use of products containing recycled glass through the promotion of green procurement.  We also aim to engage different stakeholders to share their eco-responsibility for the proper handling of waste glass containers.  To this end, we have been progressively developing voluntary glass container recycling programmes from which we could gather relevant experience.  We also work with the trades and relevant organisations to promote the wider use of products containing recycled glass.

(c) To encourage the community at large to participate in the separation of glass containers for recycling, the Government has been discussing with the relevant trades and other organisations interested in promoting recycling, with a view to assisting them in implementing glass container recycling programmes.  Glass containers collected through such programmes are mainly recycled for use as raw materials in the production of green building materials.

     To date, a number of glass container recycling programmes have been successfully launched.  Regarding the hotel and catering industries:

(i) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) collaborated with the Hong Kong Hotels Association to launch the Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector in 2008.  Over 1,500 tonnes of glass have been recycled so far.

(ii) Encouraged by the EPD, many hotels and large catering service providers, such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, have started their own glass container recycling initiatives.  Glass containers collected are sent to local recycling facilities for the production of eco-paving blocks.

     Some local non-profit making organisations (for example, the Hong Chi Association and the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association) also organise glass container recycling activities at the district level and at locations where pubs and restaurants abound.  Some of these recycling programmes receive funding support from the Environment and Conservation Fund and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.  The EPD offers advice on and assists with the arrangements for glass recycling.

     To further promote the recycling of glass containers in Hong Kong, the EPD joined hand with the Hong Kong Housing Authority to launch the Pilot Programme on Source Separation of Glass Bottles at six public rental housing estates in East Kowloon in late 2010.  Glass container recycling bins were installed alongside the 3-coloured waste separation bins in the participating housing estates to facilitate the residents in separation of glass containers from other daily waste for recycling.  We will keep the collection and operational experience in view so as to examine the possibility of extending the separation programme to other housing estates.

(d) The main obstacles to the promotion of recovery of waste glass in Hong Kong are the absence of local glass manufacturing plants and the lack of recycling facilities to absorb large quantities of waste glass.  Export to other places on the other hand involves high transport costs.  To facilitate the recycling of waste glass, the EPD funded a research by a local university in 2004 under which waste glass containers were crushed into small granules for the production of eco-paving blocks.  This has successfully developed a new recycling outlet for local glass containers.  The Government is now actively pursuing the wider use of eco-paving blocks containing recycled glass in Government works projects under the green procurement policy.  For example, the Highways Department has already stipulated in their public road maintenance contracts that priority should be given to the use of eco-paving blocks containing recycled glass for paving concrete block pavements since October 2010.  The Housing Department, the Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Architectural Services Department have also used these eco-paving blocks in suitable projects.  In addition, the Government will actively explore and try out other potential works materials containing waste glass.  This will not only relieve the pressure on landfills, but will also serve as an example to encourage more scientific research in the use of waste glass as works materials for projects.  Experience so gathered can also serve as reference for private works projects.  We hope that the market can ultimately create enough economic incentives to sustain the development of industries related to the local recycling and reuse of glass.

Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:20


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