LCQ9: Monitoring of outsourced recycling services

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Siu-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (March 15):


     It has been reported that after the operator of GREEN@KWUN TONG (i.e. a recycling station under the Environmental Protection Department (EPD)) handed over the beverage cartons collected to a third party earlier on, such third party has not delivered the beverage cartons concerned to downstream recyclers for treatment. The whereabouts of these beverage cartons are unknown. Regarding the monitoring of outsourced recycling services, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the measures put in place by the EPD to monitor the services and performances of the operators/contractors of outsourced recycling services;

(2) whether the EPD has set performance indicators for the work carried out by the operators/contractors of outsourced recycling services; if so, whether there were any cases not meeting the targets in the past three years; if so, of the number and details of such cases, as well as the penalties imposed by the authorities (set out by year);

(3) as it is learnt that the EPD will require the operators/contractors of outsourced recycling services to submit records of the collection of recyclables on a regular basis, and that the EPD will deploy staff to the recycling facilities to conduct inspections and conduct spot checks on their records, whether the EPD will, in order to step up the monitoring of outsourced recycling services, require the operators/contractors concerned to submit the relevant records as soon as possible, and consider conducting surprise inspections; and

(4) regarding those operators/contractors of outsourced recycling services which have adverse records on their services, whether the authorities will formulate relevant mechanisms, such as introducing to the assessment mechanism of the tenders for outsourced recycling services a demerit point system which targets at such operators/contractors?



     Our reply to the question raised by the Hon Chan is set out below:

(1) In accordance with the service contracts of GREEN@COMMUNITY, the operators must deliver the recyclables collected to the downstream recyclers approved by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) for handling. The EPD requires all operators to submit monthly reports on the quantities of recyclables collected and the information of the approved downstream recyclers to which the recyclables are delivered. To ensure proper handling of recyclables, approval has to be obtained from the EPD for switching to a different downstream recycler.

     Moreover, the EPD keeps monitoring the operators of its community recycling network and their operations. For downstream recyclers appointed by the EPD as contractors for recycling specified recyclables, such as waste plastics, waste glass containers, regulated electrical equipment, small household electrical appliances as well as fluorescent lamps and tubes, they are also required under the service contracts to properly handle the recyclables collected, and their service fees are calculated based on the actual quantities recovered. Various measures are taken by the EPD to monitor the movements of the recyclables collected. For instance, contractors are required to keep and submit records of the recyclables collected, as well as receipts of the delivery of the processed materials and wastes. To ensure that the contractors properly handle recyclables in accordance with contractual requirements, EPD staff also conduct inspections at the recycling facilities and spot checks on their records, as well as monitor the contractors' collection fleets, etc. As for those recycling programmes (such as the one for rechargeable batteries) funded by the trade, the respective trade sectors would supervise and manage the programmes, and keep the relevant records. Regular inspections are conducted by both the trade and the EPD to ensure proper handling of the recyclables.

     Since late March 2022, the EPD has progressively extended the Pilot Scheme on Collection and Recycling Services of Plastic Recyclable Materials to nine districts, namely Eastern District, Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, Central and Western District, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Sai Kung, Tai Po and Tuen Mun. To ensure proper handling of the waste plastics collected, the contractors are required to implement a comprehensive monitoring plan, including the installation of Global Positioning System on collection vehicles, keeping of electronic records and installation of surveillance systems at processing plants. EPD staff will conduct inspections and spot checks to monitor the contractors' performance throughout various stages in the collection and processing of waste plastics. Calculation of the service fee payable to a contractor is also based on the quantity of the plastic raw materials generated upon recycling.

(2) Over the past three years, all operators of GREEN@COMMUNITY achieved the specified recovery targets.

(3) The EPD has attached great importance to the incident at GREEN@KWUN TONG, and will step up inspection and monitoring of the approved downstream recyclers on receipt of recyclables. To avoid recurrence of similar incidents, the EPD has instructed all operators of GREEN@COMMUNITY not to deliver recyclables through third parties, and that all recyclables collected should be delivered directly to the downstream recyclers approved by the EPD for proper recycling. Receipts issued by these approved downstream recyclers should also be kept and produced for verification. The EPD will only approve service payment after verifying receipts. In addition, EPD staff will conduct inspection to the treatment facilities of approved downstream recyclers and cross-check the site records to ensure that the recyclers have properly handled the recyclables. If any improper handling is found, the EPD will withdraw the approval as the downstream recyclers. If an operator is found to be failing to comply with the contractual requirements of handling the recyclables collected properly, the EPD will take necessary follow-up actions in accordance with the operation contract concerned.

(4) In the follow-on operation contracts of GREEN@COMMUNITY, the EPD has included a penalty provision for failure to handle recyclables properly, and the fine imposed is equivalent to 20 per cent of the monthly facility management fee or monthly basic service fee. Moreover, an operator's past performance may have a bearing on the operator's future bidding for outsourced service contracts to be offered by the EPD.

Ends/Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:30