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Waste statistics published for 2016
     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (December 27) published the report "Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong - Waste Statistics for 2016", presenting the 2016 statistics on disposal and recovery/recycling of solid waste generated in Hong Kong, which includes municipal solid waste (MSW) (comprising domestic, commercial and industrial waste), overall construction waste and special waste.
     Overall, the quantity of MSW generation in 2016 was 5.7 million tonnes, which had dropped by 0.7 per cent. Domestic MSW generation has dropped by 2.7 per cent, suggesting that the public has gradually become more aware of reduction of waste at source. Commercial and industrial MSW generation continued to rise with an annual increase of 1.7 per cent, but the rate of increase was lower than that of 2015.
     In 2016, the average daily quantity of solid waste disposed of at landfills was 15 332 tonnes, representing an increase of 1.5 per cent compared with the figure for 2015. Regarding MSW, the average daily quantity of disposal at landfills was 10 345 tonnes in 2016, representing an increase of 1.8 per cent as compared with 2015. This rate of increase has been decelerating in recent years.
     As far as the per capita MSW disposal rate per day is concerned, the 2016 figure was 1.41 kilograms, compared to 1.39 kilograms in 2014. The increase in the MSW disposal rate was mainly driven by the increase in the amount of commercial and industrial waste being disposed of, which was partly attributable to the relatively buoyant local economy in 2016.
     Looking at the figures by waste type, glass and plastic disposal dropped by 10 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. However, food waste disposal increased by 6.5 per cent, and the per capita disposal rate of food waste increased by 5.8 per cent. This increase was driven by an increase in commercial and industrial food waste disposal. Domestic food waste disposal rate per capita continued to drop for three consecutive years, with a decrease of 3.5 per cent in 2016 as compared to 2015.
     The quantity of special waste being disposed of at landfills in 2016 decreased markedly by 24.1 per cent compared to the figure for 2015. The decrease is attributable to the commissioning of the Sludge Treatment Facility (T·PARK) in Tuen Mun in 2015. This facility treats de-watered sewage sludge from sewage treatment plants by incineration, leaving only the residue and ash to be landfilled, hence significantly reducing the volume of such waste to be disposed of at landfills by 90 per cent.
     Regarding construction waste, the recovery rate of inert construction materials delivered to public fill reception facilities and other outlets was 93 per cent in 2016. Construction waste disposal charges increased with effect from April 7, 2017, which provided an incentive for the trade to reduce and reuse construction waste.
     Hong Kong relies heavily on service industries, and hence it has very limited capacity to utilise raw or recycled materials in local production. The condition of the international market for recyclables has for many years heavily dictated the value of and outlets for local recyclables. The challenging condition of the international market for recyclables in the past few years has had a dampening effect on demand for, and thus prices of, local recyclables. Compared to 2015, the total quantity of recovered MSW was about 120 000 tonnes lower. The MSW recovery rate was 34 per cent in 2016, slightly lower than the 35 per cent of 2015. In terms of major types of recyclables, the recovery of waste paper dropped by 91 000 tonnes owing to weak demand. On the other hand, waste plastics recovery increased by some 32 000 tonnes, possibly due to the rebound in the crude oil price which drove up the demand for plastic recyclables.
     An EPD spokesman said that the Government attaches great importance to waste management work, and will continue with its efforts in implementing step by step the waste reduction and recycling policies and actions under the "Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022" and "A Food Waste & Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022". In her Policy Address delivered in October this year, the Chief Executive introduced a number of new initiatives to strengthen the capability of waste reduction at source and recycling in society, as well as tackle the challenges brought by the gradual tightening of import requirements for recyclable materials by the Mainland. Among others, the EPD will establish an outreach team and launch a new round of publicity and an education campaign on clean recycling, thereby enhancing the recyclability and recycling value of recyclables. The EPD will also strengthen its collaboration with non-government organisations and stakeholders to actively support the collection of low-value recyclables at the community level, and will also introduce a scheme on central collection of waste plastic bottles in order to enhance the cost-effectiveness of handling these recyclables. Moreover, appropriate schemes will continue to be launched under the $1 billion Recycling Fund set up by the Government to upgrade the overall operational standards and capabilities of the recycling industry, in order to further increase value-added from the industry. The Government will also study the feasibility of incubating a local manufacturing industry using recycled materials in the search for more effective and diverse outlets for locally generated recyclables.
     The EPD will continue to implement various policies to promote waste reduction, including MSW charging and producer responsibility schemes on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and glass beverage containers; commissioning recovery infrastructure including the WEEE Treatment and Recycling Facility and the Organic Resources Recovery Centres; developing the Community Green Station network to promote environmental education and support collection of low-value recyclables at local community level, and rolling out a new round of the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign to sustain reduction in food waste. The Organic Resources Recovery Centre Phase 1, which can process a maximum of 200 tonnes of food waste per day, will commence in the first half of 2018. The Organic Resources Recovery Centre Phase 2, which can process a maximum of 300 tonnes of food waste per day, will commence operation in 2021. The "Food Waste - Sewage Sludge Anaerobic Co-digestion Trial Scheme" has also started construction at Tai Po Sewage Treatment Works and will be able to treat a maximum of 50 tonnes of food waste per day upon commissioning in 2019. Once the trial has proved successful, the Government can gradually extend such a food waste treatment approach to other areas. The above facilities will help reduce food waste disposal. The implementation of MSW charging will also help reduce waste disposal and raise the recovery rate.
     The report and "Hong Kong 2016 Municipal Solid Waste - At a Glance", are both available in electronic format and can be obtained from the EPD website at www.wastereduction.gov.hk/en/assistancewizard/waste_red_sat.htm.
Ends/Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:00
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