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LCQ6: Handling of yard waste by government departments
     Following is a question by the Hon Hui Chi-fung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):
     Regarding the handling of yard waste generated by vegetation under the purview of various government departments, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective means by which various government departments currently handle withered or broken tree branches, trunks and leaves collected by them;
(2) of the respective weights of yard waste (i) collected and (ii) disposed of at landfills by various government departments in each of the past three years (with a tabulated breakdown by type of waste);
(3) of the public response to the latest round of the campaigns launched by the Environmental Protection Department to recycle Christmas trees and peach blossom trees; given that the Peach Blossom Tree Recycling Campaign has been launched since 2014, how the effectiveness of this year's recycling campaign compares with that in the past few years, and whether there is a trend of gradual improvement;
(4) of the effectiveness of the trial yard waste recycling scheme launched by the Housing Department in 2014 at Lam Tin Estate; whether it will consider launching the trial scheme in other public housing estates; if so, of the details; and 
(5) whether the authorities will consider formulating a long-term policy on recycling of yard waste; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(1) Government departments have been following the "Guidelines on Yard Waste Reduction and Treatment" (the Guidelines) promulgated by the Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section (GLTMS) of the Development Bureau (DEVB) to implement various measures to reduce yard waste (including withered and broken tree branches and leaves) as much as practicable according to the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling, with a view to reducing disposal at landfills. With the exception of plants infested by pests, diseases or invasive species, yard waste would be treated according to its nature by appropriate means, including natural degradation, composting, mulching, fuel production and reusing as recreational facilities or decoration. The Guidelines can be downloaded at the following website: www.greening.gov.hk/filemanager/content/pdf/faq/Guidelines_on_Yard_Waste_Reduction_and_Treatment_e.pdf.
(2) The quantities of yard waste (i) collected and (ii) disposed of at landfills by various government departments in the past three years are set out in Annex.
(3) In order to reduce yard waste disposal at landfills, the Government has stepped up the promotion of Christmas trees and peach blossom trees (PBTs) recycling in recent years. Our efforts have met with positive feedback from the community. 
     As regards our latest efforts to promote the recycling of Christmas trees, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) hired a contractor to receive the trees from members of the public, commercial and industrial organisations, property management companies, and other institutions at the central collection point in Tai Po managed by the contractor from January 6 to 8, 2017. In respect of PBTs, the EPD hired a contractor to provide recycling services during February 11 to 14, 2017 under which the public could deliver PBTs to 37 public refuse collection points spread across the 18 districts, six Outlying Island Transfer Facilities and the central collection point in Tai Po managed by the contractor. Commercial and industrial organisations, property management companies, and other institutions could deliver their PBTs to the central collection point in Tai Po managed by the contractor. In addition, the contractor collected PBTs direct from the Lunar New Year Fairs at the Victoria Park and the Fa Hui Park in Mong Kok.

     The collected Christmas trees and PBTs were recycled into wood pellets as a renewable fuel, as well as mulch, bulking agent and compost for gardening uses, which have been be given to public organisations, tertiary institutions, schools, green groups and non-profit organisations for free.
     The EPD collaborated with the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Association to organise the PBTs recycling programme in 2014, 2015 and 2016 during which 2 211, 2 520 and 7 199 PBTs had been collected respectively. Separately, a total of 3 199 PBTs were collected through hire of services provided by the EPD in 2017. It is worth noting that the recycling rate fluctuates from year to year and is subject to various factors including the harvest and sale of PBTs.
(4) The Housing Department (HD) has launched a pilot scheme on yard waste recycling in Lam Tin Estate since 2014 with satisfactory results. Under the scheme, yard waste, such as fallen leaves and grass clippings, would be collected and put into composting bins for recycling into compost. The compost would be added to plant bed as soil conditioner which enhances plant growth. The HD will consider implementing the scheme in other public rental housing estates with due regard to the individual conditions, including ventilation in the area where the composting bins are installed, the sufficiency of sunlight and the avoidance of nuisance to the residents nearby.
(5) In February 2014, the Environment Bureau (ENB) promulgated A Food Waste and Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022 (the Plan), which sets out the Government's strategies to deal with organic waste. The strategies cover collecting data collection, promoting waste reduction at source, encouraging separation and collection as well as exploring the most suitable means to treat the unavoidable waste. An inter-departmental working group chaired by the ENB has been set up to co-ordinate the work of the government departments in implementing the Plan, including enhancing data collection and promoting best practices.
     Various government bureaux and departments have rendered support to the Plan. For example, the GLTMS of the DEVB published the Guidelines in July 2014, which provides general reference for government departments relating to measures on yard waste reduction at various stages from landscape design to maintenance. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has adopted the best practice available to treat yard waste on site as far as possible, including stockpiling on site to provide niches for wildlife and release nutrients to nature when they decompose. Tree logs suitable for reuse would be used for making furniture or decorative materials for the recreational facilities in country parks, such as animated features, waymarks, and benches, etc. Yard waste from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) would be delivered to the Animal Waste Composting Plant in Ngau Tam Mei and the Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre for composting. Since 2014, the LCSD has started to produce compost on-site from yard waste using garden composters at suitable venues. The LCSD will gradually replace the planting of annuals by shrubs or perennials with colourful foliage, with a view to reducing yard waste at source. In the longer term, the LCSD will specify in the Schedule of Accommodation of suitable new venues the requirement for installation of on-site composting facilities. The Civil Engineering and Development Department's greening works relating to infrastructural development, works of slope stabilisation and greening master plan would focus on planting of perennials suitable for local environment, with the right vegetation in the right place and choose native perennials to encourage local ecological growth and reduce plant replacement in order to reduce yard waste.
     The Government will continue to implement the Plan and appeal to the various stakeholders for support to reduce yard waste on multiple fronts, including reducing the use of decorative plants during festive events, replanting, promoting better landscape design and pursuing suitable policies to promote natural degradation, composting, anaerobic digestion, reuse and recycling etc.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:20
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