LCQ16: Food waste recycling trial scheme in public housing estates

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (December 17):


     The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA), in collaboration with three environmental groups, implemented a food waste recycling trial scheme (trial scheme) in 14 public housing estates from November 2012 to July this year.  It has been reported that HA no longer carries out food waste recycling in such housing estates after the trial scheme ended.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) in respect of each of the aforesaid housing estates, of (i) the number of households which participated in the trial scheme, (ii) the method adopted for the recycling of food waste, (iii) the quantity of food waste collected each month on average during the relevant period, and (iv) the way adopted for disposal of the food waste;

(2) of the outcome of the review of the trial scheme, including the problems encountered in respect of the modes and workflows adopted for the recycling, adequacy of the promotional and educational efforts, cost-effectiveness of the trial scheme, cultivation of the habit of waste separation and recycling among members of the public, etc.; and

(3) whether it has formulated any plan for implementing food waste recycling in public housing estates; whether it will formally implement a food waste recycling scheme in all public housing estates and adopt different modes of food waste recycling in various housing estates with regard to the constraints therein; if it will not, of the reasons for that?



     The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is committed to promoting waste reduction and recycling in public housing estates through various schemes and measures, among which was the food waste recycling trial scheme (trial scheme) mentioned in the question.  Under the trial scheme, the HA collaborated with three environmental groups to trial run food waste recycling at 14 public housing estates by phases since November 2012 until end of July 2014.  My reply to the question raised by the Hon Frederick Fung is as follows.

     The trial scheme covered 14 estates with about 3 200 households participated.  About 640 tonnes of food waste were collected in the course.  Two recycling modes were adopted under the trial scheme, viz. the off-site recycling mode and the on-site recycling mode.  The off-site recycling mode was adopted in 13 estates, including Lai Kok Estate, Tin Wah Estate, Tin Tsz Estate, Nam Shan Estate, Ching Ho Estate, Grandeur Terrace, Lai On Estate, On Yam Estate, Sun Chui Estate, Lei Muk Shue Estate, Kai Tin Estate, Tsz Ching Estate and Tin Ching Estate.  Under this mode, food waste collected from the estates was transported to a central food waste recycling plant in the New Territories for conversion into fish feed.  Lam Tin Estate adopted the on-site recycling mode, whereby food waste collected was converted into compost by using micro-organism for subsequent use in the community farm in the estate.

     As revealed in the implementation of the trial scheme, on one hand, the on-site recycling mode was subject to space constraints of individual estates; on the other hand, it would involve higher labour and operating cost.  Besides, the amount of food waste recycled was limited.  Furthermore, due to odour nuisance and hygiene problem, it is difficult to find suitable venues for on-site recycling.  As such, it would be more difficult to solicit general support from estate residents for the on-site recycling mode and its continuous implementation.  Comparatively speaking, off-site recycling mode is more cost-effective.  The extensive and continuous operation of this mode among residents is more plausible.

     In conclusion, the trial scheme has enhanced environmental awareness and promoted recycling among the residents.  Therefore, the HA is now contemplating to arrange off-site food waste recycling trial scheme in suitable estates so as to continue promoting waste reduction and recycling.  We are now discussing with suitable food waste recyclers to work out the details.  

     The HA's concern is not confined to food waste.  In order to reduce different types of waste, the HA has stepped up action to encourage waste reduction at source and carried out various promotional activities, such as the large-scale waste reduction campaign - "Let's Join Hands to Reduce Waste in Our Estates", to increase waste separation at source and waste recycling, with a view to reducing municipal solid waste generated in public housing estates.

Ends/Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:38