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LCQ15: Disposal of Construction Waste

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth QUAT and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 3):


     According to the "Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022" (Blueprint) published by the Environment Bureau in May last year, the construction waste loads to landfills have dropped by some 60 per cent after the imposition of charges for the disposal of construction waste in Hong Kong.  However, the latest data show that in 2011 and 2012, the construction waste loads delivered to landfills for disposal were still as high as about 3 300 and 3 400 tonnes per day respectively, accounting for 25 per cent of the total waste intake per day.  In connection with the improvement in the handling of construction waste, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective loads of construction waste delivered to landfills and public fill reception facilities in 2013; if the relevant information is not available, when it will conduct a survey on this and announce the figures;

(2) as it was stated in the Blueprint that the Government would carry out trade consultation from 2013 to 2015 regarding review of construction waste charging scheme, of the progress of such consultation;

(3) apart from charging for the disposal of construction waste, whether the authorities have other plans or measures to reduce the generation of construction waste; if they do, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether it will allocate more resources and enhance cooperation with the construction trade to promote green construction, including introducing low carbon elements in construction processes, reducing the generation of construction waste, using green building materials, and recycling construction waste; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) whether it will study the adoption of other measures to facilitate the recycling of construction waste; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(6) given that sand and silt often drip from skips during transportation of construction waste and, even worse, wood panels and other large-size construction waste have fallen from skips, thereby posing hazards to other road users, whether the Government has any plan to impose regulation by requiring that skips must be of closed type; if it has such plans, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     As indicated in the "Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022" published by the Environment Bureau last year, our waste stream contains a treasure trove of useful resources which should be reused, recovered and recycled as far as possible so as to achieve "Use Less, Waste Less".  In general, construction and demolition (C&D) materials of different nature are abandoned from our daily construction works, most of which are reusable inert materials such as rock, rubble, boulder, earth, soil, sand, concrete, asphalt, brick, tile, masonry and used bentonite.  We encourage on-site sorting by works contractors who may then sort out the reusable inert materials for transfer to the fill banks for reuse in other suitable projects.  These materials are generally referred to as "public fill" or "inert C&D materials".  Construction waste, which contains non-inert C&D materials, will be disposed of at landfills.

     Regarding the respective parts of the question:

(1) In 2013, the landfills received 1.311 million tonnes (Mt) of construction waste while the public fill reception facilities received 12.943 Mt of public fill (or inert C&D materials).

(2) to (5) The Government has been monitoring the effectiveness of the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme and its operation.  A review of the charging levels based on the "polluter pays" principle is underway in order to maintain its effectiveness on waste reduction.  We believe that other than creating economic incentive through quantity-based charging, promoting waste reduction also requires appropriate complementary measures so as to encourage generating less and promoting recycling in the spirit of "Waste Less, Pay Less". In this connection,

(a) At present, C&D materials of different nature are subject to different charging levels: lowest at the public fill banks, highest at the landfills and somewhere in-between at the sorting facilities which receive C&D materials containing more than 50 per cent by weight of inert C&D materials.  Such differential charging is to encourage sorting for reusable inert C&D materials.  We will continue to enhance communication with the trade and encourage the use of the sorting facilities in order to minimise the disposal of C&D materials at the landfills.

(b) The Government has been promoting green building within the construction industry and has already introduced measures to promote low carbon, emission reduction and the use of recycled materials in public works projects, with a view to achieving the target of "energy conservation and waste reduction". In respect of waste reduction, the Government promotes the use of recycled construction materials (e.g. recycled fill materials, recycled sub-base materials and paving blocks made of waste glass) in public works projects and encourages the adoption of green site offices to avoid generating additional construction waste.  Moreover, since April 2011, the Government required that submission of the Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus Assessment awarded/issued by the Hong Kong Green Building Council is one of the prerequisites for the granting of gross floor area concessions for new private development projects.  The BEAM Plus Assessment sets out various standards for green construction design, building and management, etc. and encourages the construction industry to use precast units that are low carbon and generate less waste, recycled materials, recover construction waste, etc.

(c) The Government will continue to support various studies in relation to exploring the feasibility of recycling different materials found in construction waste.  For example, in recent years, the Construction Industry Council has been actively researching into the reuse of waste concrete after processing. The relevant study is expected to be completed by end 2014.  If the study can successfully lead to applications in concrete or cement mortar, there will be much greater incentive to separate the waste concrete at source.

     We are reviewing the effectiveness of the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme and various complementary measures.  We will consult the trade at a suitable juncture.  Upon the formulation of a comprehensive proposal, we will report the progress to the Panel on Environmental Affairs of the Legislative Council as soon as possible.

(6) As to the mandatory use of fully-enclosed vehicles for carrying C&D materials, we note that design adopting full enclosure may not necessarily meet operational needs.  However, the Government has been requesting the industry to take measures to ensure that vehicles carrying C&D materials will not pose danger to other road users in the course of transportation, and minimise the impact to nearby residents.  At present, for insecure loading on vehicles, or object and C&D materials falling or scattering on the road, the Police Force may take enforcement actions under the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Cap. 374G). For dripping of waste water from vehicles, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) may take enforcement actions under the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation (Cap. 132BK).

     In order to strengthen the implementation of relevant statutory requirements and the enforcement actions, since August 2013, the Environmental Protection Department, the Police Force and the FEHD have been carrying out joint operations to intercept refuse collection vehicles and dump trucks from time to time at road sections in the vicinity of landfills or fill banks so as to tackle non-compliance cases such as falling and scattering of objects or C&D materials on the road, speeding, overloading and dripping of waste water.  As at October 2014, we conducted 126 joint operations, with issue of 139 summons and 608 fixed penalty notices, as well as 224 verbal warnings.  We found that the situation of insecure loading on heavy vehicles, dripping of waste water and uncovered buckets of dump trucks has been greatly improved when compared to the early stage of the operation.  According to the statistics from the Civil Engineering and Development Department, as at October 2014, there was a drop of about 75 per cent in the number of dump trucks with uncovered buckets when entering the public fill banks when compared to the early stage of the operation. We will continue to monitor the situation through blitz operations.

Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:48


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