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EPD clarifies media reports about control on imported recyclable materials in Hong Kong

     In response to media enquiries about the control on imported recyclable materials in Hong Kong, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) made the following clarification today (July 18):

     Imported recyclables are commodities with commercial value, and they are not waste imported for disposal purpose. The trading of such recyclable materials is very active in the international market and it supports the circular economy.

     In line with international practices adopted by other countries, Hong Kong has strict laws which prohibit the disposal of imported waste locally. Whilst the import and export of recyclable materials for recycling purpose is allowed under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO), the import of such materials for disposal in Hong Kong is a violation of the law. The EPD is vigilant in taking enforcement action against such activities.

     At present, all waste deliveries to the landfills are checked at the landfill entrance by the EPD and the landfill contractors. Information on the waste delivery vehicle, waste type and quantity are logged for each delivery. Any suspect deliveries would be intercepted at the landfill entrance for further inspection and follow-up investigation as necessary. Up till now, there is no indication of deliveries of imported waste or imported recyclables to the landfills for disposal.

     In light of the tightening of control on imported recyclables by the Mainland authorities, the EPD and Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) have jointly established contact points with the Mainland authorities to track the returned shipments from the Mainland. The EPD, with the support of C&ED, is following up with parties of the rejected shipments upon their arrival with a view to confirm the content of the shipments and to conduct follow-up inspection as necessary. All these returned shipments are being monitored closely until they are shipped out of Hong Kong.

     The EPD has also stepped up inspection at landfill entrances since March this year in order to prevent illegal disposal of imported waste at the landfills. The department has reached out to the trade and shipping companies to reinforce the message that such returned shipment of imported recyclables must not be disposed of locally. The above measure, together with the on-going inspections at landfills, has reduced the risk of rejected recyclables disposed of at landfills.

     In fact, according to the department's record, the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposed of at landfills every day was steady over the past ten years. In 2012, about 9 300 tonnes of MSW were disposed of daily at landfills. The overall waste plastics content of 20 per cent has also been steady in the past ten years. We do not find any evidence in the MSW disposal at our landfills that a large amount of imported plastic recyclables are being disposed of locally.

     The EPD will continue to monitor the situation and take further necessary measures against attempts to dispose of imported recyclables in Hong Kong.

Ends/Thursday, July 18, 2013
Issued at HKT 22:48


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