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LCQ14: Water dispensers at government venues
     Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):


     According to the information of the Environment Bureau, around 58 000 to 79 000 tonnes of plastic bottle waste was disposed of at landfills each year from 2010 to 2014. Some environmentalists have suggested that the Government should provide more drinking fountains in public venues and encourage members of the public to bring their own water bottles so that they will purchase less bottled water and beverages, thereby reducing the plastic bottle waste generated. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of each of the following types of venues, and set out by name of the venue the respective numbers of (i) fountain type water dispensers, (ii) non-fountain type water dispensers, and (iii) drinks vending machines, installed at the venue (set out in a table):
(i) public libraries, museums, performance venues, land sports facilities, parks, beaches and swimming pool complexes under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department;
(ii) public markets and cooked food centres under the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department;
(iii) community halls/community centres under the Home Affairs Department;
(iv) Government Offices;
(v) ferry piers;
(vi) public transport interchanges;
(vii) clinics under the Department of Health; and
(viii) public hospitals and outpatient clinics under the Hospital Authority;

(2) whether it has plans to install or increase the number of drinking fountains in the venues listed in (1); if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) given that disposable plastic cups and bottled water are no longer provided in the Taipei City Hall building since April this year, whether the authorities have plans to take similar measures in government buildings; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that?


     The Government has been adopting the principle of "reduce, reuse and recycle" to tackle the waste management challenges. In accordance with this principle, we have always encouraged the public to use less disposable items. Water dispensers provided by the Government in public places are mainly installed in active recreational facilities managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), such as sports centres, sports grounds and swimming pools, etc. The LCSD provides these water dispensers mainly for the convenience of the public and to promote environmental protection by encouraging members of the public to bring their own reusable water bottles.
     My reply to the Hon Kwok's question is as follows:
(1) There are two main types of water dispensers, namely fountain and non-fountain type provided in government venues. For fountain type water dispensers, water is drawn from the water mains of the Water Supplies Department and sterilised by ultra-violet light before use. They are designed for use at both indoor and outdoor venues. As there is no need to change water bottles, they are suitable for use at venues with high water usage. Most of the non-fountain type water dispensers dispense water from bottled water. A small portion of these dispensers dispense water from water mains after treatment by a filter system. They are designed for use at indoor venues only. Figures on water dispensers and drinks vending machines at the venues mentioned in the question are set out at the Annex.
(2) The relevant government departments will continue to explore various measures to encourage the public to use less disposable plastic beverage bottles, including the installation of more water dispensers in suitable government premises to provide the public with potable water. Nevertheless, due consideration has to be given to a number of factors, such as the service nature, utilisation rate, suitable type of water dispensers to be installed, hygiene and water quality management, and arrangement for repairs and maintenance, etc. Relevant work is still underway and thus no specific timetable for implementation is available for the time being.
(3) The Government has been actively promoting waste reduction at source. We drew up relevant guidelines in 2012, according to which various government departments should adopt green measures as well as avoid and reduce waste generation. Such measures include to serve potable water by glasses or reusable containers when organising or attending activities and meetings; avoid purchasing bottled beverages and one-off disposable utensils and containers; and set up recycling facilities in government buildings as far as possible to facilitate recycling of plastics and other recyclables. We will make reference to the practices of other places and enhance the guidelines or introduce suitable measures from time to time to promote waste reduction and recycling.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:46
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