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LCQ17: Municipal solid waste
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):
     The Government released in 2013 the Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 (the Blueprint) which sets out the reduction target for municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal rate on a per capita basis: by 2017, the disposal rate would be reduced by 20 per cent from 1.27 kg per day to 1 kg or below. On the other hand, according to the information contained in Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong - Waste Statistics for 2014, MSW disposal rate on a per capita basis rose from 1.27 kg in 2011 to 1.35 kg in 2014. Moreover, the quantity of MSW disposed of at landfills rose by an average annual rate of 1.9 per cent during the period from 2010 to 2015, with the weight of food waste accounting for as high as 37.2 per cent of the weight of MSW disposed of at landfills in 2014. Some members of the public have pointed out that the target set by the Blueprint cannot be achieved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective overall MSW disposal rates in the entire year of 2015 and the first half of 2016;
(2) of the respective quantities of each type of MSW recovered and disposed of at landfills, and their percentages in the total quantity of that type of waste, in each of the past five years;
(3) whether it has analysed the causes for the rise in the quantity of MSW disposed of at landfills in the past five years; if it has, of the outcome;
(4) of the weight of food waste, and its percentage, in MSW disposed of at landfills in each of the past five years (with a breakdown by source of food waste, including households, food premises and supermarkets); whether it has formulated targeted measures to reduce food waste at source; if it has, of the details;
(5) of the respective handling capacities of various waste recovery facilities and the actual quantities of waste handled by them at present;
(6) of the ratio of the quantity of imported recyclable materials to that of re-exported recyclable materials in each of the past five years; and
(7) given that quite a number of countries have implemented landfill taxes and bans in order to gradually reduce dependency on landfills, whether the Government will make reference to the relevant practice and formulate similar policies; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     The Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 (the Blueprint) issued by the Environment Bureau in May 2013 sets out a comprehensive strategy to reduce waste and increase recovery and recycling in Hong Kong. It also sets a target of 40 per cent reduction in per capita municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal rate by 2022. The Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong Report mentioned in the questions raised by the Hon Chan Hak-kan covers total solid waste, including MSW, special waste and overall construction waste. Since the relevant waste reduction target is only applicable to MSW (i.e. domestic waste and commercial and industrial (C&I) waste), and the questions raised by the Hon Chan Hak-kan are about such wastes, thus our answer and relevant statistics are focused on MSW.
     Our replies to the questions raised by the Hon Chan Hak-kan are as follows:
(1) The Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong Report for 2015 is currently under compilation by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). The Report is expected to be completed and published by the end of 2016. The compilation of relevant figures for 2016 is expected to be completed in the latter half of 2017.
(2) Annual statistics on disposal and recovery of various MSW and its recovery rate over the past five years are at Annex 1.
(3) There was a rising trend in MSW disposal over the past five years, mainly because of an increase in C&I waste disposal (of 13 per cent from 2010 to 2014). Economic growth will usually stimulate consumption and hence production activities, which in turn might contribute to generating more C&I waste, including those generated in shops, eateries, hotels, offices and markets in private housing estates where commercial activities are conducted. The growth in C&I waste largely correlated with the growth in real Gross Domestic Product, as well as the higher growth of local and foreign consumer demand (e.g. visitors).
(4) Over the past five years, the quantity of food waste (including domestic food waste and C&I food waste) disposed of at landfills and its percent share in respective waste category are at Annex 2. To tackle the food waste problem in Hong Kong, the Government unveiled A Food Waste and Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022 (Food Waste Plan) in 2014 which maps out the overall strategies for handling food waste, including reduction at source, reuse and donation, recyclable collection, and turning food waste into energy. Among them, reduction at source and reuse and donation are the main targeted measures for reduction of food waste at source.
     Launched in May 2013, Food Wise Hong Kong is a territory-wide campaign for food waste reduction, which aims to raise public awareness of food waste problem. Since the start of Food Wise Hong Kong, we have been promoting food waste avoidance and appealing to the community to adopt personal and domestic behavioural change to reduce food waste through various publicity and educational programmes. In addition, we have also been drawing up and promoting good practices on food waste reduction for C&I establishments, and facilitating surplus food donation between the establishments and charitable organisations in the community.
     As reported at the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs on October 24, 2016, although food waste still accounted for the largest share of MSW in terms of waste disposal in landfills, the percent share of food waste disposal in landfills has fallen from 37 per cent in 2014 to 33 per cent in 2015. In 2015, the quantity of food waste disposed of at landfills was 1.23 million tonnes (3 382 tonnes per day), which has decreased by 7.1 per cent as compared with the same in 2014. Discounting the factor of population growth, the municipal food waste per-capita disposal rate has fallen from 0.50 kg per day in 2014 to 0.46 kg per day in 2015, which has decreased by 7.9 per cent year-on-year.  This is likely because of the public's gradual acceptance of Government's yearlong education programmes and publicity campaigns, which advocate domestic waste reduction at source, source separation and recycling. The EPD will continue to closely monitor the effectiveness of these measures to reduce domestic waste disposal.
(5) At present, locally generated recyclable materials are mainly handled by private recycling facilities, but we do not have relevant details of the design and actual capacities of these facilities.  Moreover, a certain portion of these recyclables are handled by recycling facilities constructed and operated by the private recyclers in EcoPark. In 2015, these facilities processed a total of over 160 000 tonnes of recyclables, exceeding the original projected annual throughput set at 58 600 tonnes in 2006 when the Government applied for funding support from the Legislative Council.  In addition, in order to accumulate experiences and acquire information related to source separation, collection and the application of biological treatment of food waste, the EPD commissioned the Pilot Composting Plant at the Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre. It has processed 268 tonnes of food waste in 2015.
(6) Latest statistics on import and re-export of recyclables over the past five years are at Annex 3. In recent year, the respective quantities of imports and re-exports of recyclables have been broadly balanced, indicating that most of the imported recyclables have been re-exported. As regards the small quantities of imports in excess of re-exports, the local recycling industry should be capable of consuming them for the production of raw materials or recycled products for either local consumption or export (as domestic export).
(7) We are now on track to implement the strategies and measures under the Blueprint. We will continue the progressive implementation of mandatory producer responsibilities schemes and submit legislative proposals to the Legislative Council on the implementation of quantity-based MSW charging. We expect these measures can help promote waste reduction and recycling effectively. We will continue to closely monitor the effectiveness of these measures and consider the unique circumstances and conditions of Hong Kong to review the need of introducing additional measures or tools.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:40
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