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Hong Kong’s official air quality index failing to warn on deadly health hazard

Paul Stapleton warns that the Air Quality Health Index is creating a false sense of security by consistently failing to consider dangerous levels of PM2.5, the fine particulate matter associated with lung disease

Each morning after waking up, I look out of the window at the clarity of the air and then check two websites that give air pollution readings for Hong Kong.

Admittedly, my first action is very subjective. Air clarity is a crude way to measure pollution levels, especially during months that tend to be foggy. This is why I check the indexes on those two sites. Then, I decide whether to go out for a jog or stay indoors on the treadmill.

One of the websites is run by the Environmental Protection Department. It makes air-quality forecasts and generates a real-time Air Quality Health Index [2] scaled from 1 to 10+, or “low” to “serious”. The other site is the reputable World Air Quality Index ( [3], which measures only particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), one-thirtieth the width of a human hair.

These microscopic particles that just hang in the air are known to penetrate deep into our lungs when we breathe. They mostly come from vehicle exhausts, the burning of coal to make electricity and other industrial activities.

They are also known to be hazardous to health, especially of children; PM2.5 is associated with lung diseases, including cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.

During the past week, the air pollution forecast on the local TV news each day, presumably taken from the government service, was for “low” to “medium” levels. However, at the World Air Quality Index, PM2.5 levels have been in excess of 100 for several days running. The US Environmental Protection Agency puts the 24-hour and annual standard for PM2.5 at 35 and 15 respectively. Thus, on days when Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department was informing the public that the level of air pollution was forecast to be low to medium, the amount of PM2.5 – arguably the mostly deadly pollutant – exceeded safe levels by a big margin.

In defence of the Air Quality Health Index, many other pollutants, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, are included in its composite measure, and their levels may have been “low”. However, even if their levels are low and only the PM2.5 is high, that does not mean it is safe to be outdoors for extended periods, especially for young children whose lungs are particularly prone to damage [6] by pollutants in the air.

Unfortunately, the discrepancy I noticed this past week is not an isolated incident. Regularly, the index forecasts the level of air pollution in Hong Kong to be “low to moderate” on the following day when the PM2.5 reading turns out to be at levels much higher than that acceptable by international standards. Sadly, the government’s daily forecast lends a false sense of security about air quality. In the end, it may be best to look out of the window and judge for oneself.

Paul Stapleton is an associate professor at the Education University of Hong Kong

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Something in the air: Is Hong Kong’s pollution problem worsening?

The government is trumpeting recent figures that show air pollution is significantly decreasing but is the news as good as it sounds? And what other forms of pollution should Hongkongers worry about?

Christie Tse and Joyce Au find out

“See the people walking by right now? Leisurely walking past, enjoying life, breathing the fresh air?” asks Dr Bob Tsui, vicechairman of NGO Clear The Air, as he points out his office window overlooking the streets of Jordan. You are being ‘attacked through your eyes, your cornea, your nostrils, your mouth and your skin” all the time, he follows up. As you’re reading this, tiny deadly pollution particles called magnetites are slowly moving up your nostrils, penetrating your brain tissue, nervous system and lungs. In a crowded, polluted city like Hong Kong, your body is constantly under attack, every second of every day according to Dr Tsui.

According to government statistics, though, air pollution has been decreasing for several years now. The Environmental Protection Department reckons that between 2011 and 2015, average concentrations of PM10, PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide at roadside monitoring stations fell by 26 percent, 21 percent, 19 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The figures sound impressive and the government has been running adverts on TV trumpeting its success at clearing the air.

However, all is not rosy. Recent studies conducted by scientists in Mexico City have discovered a correlation between 100 and 200 nanometer magnetites released through the exhaust pipes of taxis and buses and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This new information has sparked concern in the local scientific community since roadside pollution remains one of the leading causes of air pollution in our jam-packed city. “In the past 20 years, Hong Kong has not once met its own Air Quality Index standard or that of the World Health Organisation’s,” exclaims Patrick Fung, CEO of NGO Clean Air Network. Paul Zimmerman, Southern District councillor, believes this is unforgiveable, as ‘it’s almost like violence is around you the whole time’, he tells us.

And that’s not the half of it. You may think you can avoid pollution by simply turning recluse and staying at home, but you’d be very wrong.

Studies conducted at the University of Hong Kong reveal that our own kitchens discharge carcinogenic particles into the air every time food is made with vegetable oil. Dr Tsui states that vegetable oil is ‘the most dangerous oil you can use’ since it contributes to air pollution. Clear The Air has published an article that details the process by which vegetable oil, when subjected to high temperatures, oxidises into cancer causing chemicals. “People wonder how they get sick because they eat well all their lives,” Dr Tsui remarks, “but they don’t realise they’re constantly surrounded by these cancerous particles.”

The worst part of all of this is that the toxic kitchen discharge is completely preventable. According to Dr Tsui, the government has the ability and resources to go into restaurants and check their deep friers for dangerous particles.

“It’s a simple test strip and they can do it very easily,” he tells us. “But I have made this announcement for years and the government has not taken any action!” By placing steam jet filters in the kitchen stove, the carcinogenic particles could be released into water. This wouldn’t contaminate the water, according to Dr Tsui, because by the time the dangerous particles pass through the filter and hit the water, many things happen chemically to make the particles no longer harmful.

And cooking oil and air pollution are not the only worries we need have in Hong Kong. After the waves of rubbish that washed up on our beaches over the summer, Hongkongers should be acutely aware of the problem of landfill. Around 30 percent of landfill is made of Styrofoam and in 500 years, that same Styrofoam will still not have decomposed. What’s worse, Styrofoam is mainly composed of styrene, an extremely dangerous chemical that has been linked to cancer, vision and hearing loss, impaired memory and concentration, damage to the nervous systems and depression. “Styrene is dangerous,” Dr Tsui declares. “Styrene is vicious. Styrene should not exist in the food chain and yet, every restaurant [in Hong Kong] today still uses Styrofoam takeout boxes.” Worryingly, when we eat hot food or drink hot liquid from Styrofoam plates, boxes or cups, it’s possible for us to consume the styrene that leaches out of the hazardous material.

Once we’ve ingested these dangerous chemicals, they can swim into our bloodstreams, penetrate our organs and cause irrevocable damage to our bodies. Even Styrofoam that’s out in the ocean can ultimately affect us since when marine life, such as fish, consume it, styrene enters the food chain and eventually, Dr Tsui believes, ‘we’ll eat the darn thing’.

Dr Tsui asks: “How can the government be so blind and be so idiotic to allow this to go on?” Just as toxic kitchen discharges are preventable, so too is the use of Styrofoam. Not just in the food industry but all industries. Instead of using Styrofoam boxes for takeaway meals, companies should start using biodegradable containers, Clear The Air advocates. This minor innovation is also very much within the grasp of companies’ capabilities. Fibre generated from corn can be made to make the boxes and then coated in honey wax. Best of all, these resources are biodegradable.

Another solution that the government and corporations can consider implementing, according to Clear The Air, is changing the original chemical composition used to make Styrofoam. The government could order corporations to put titanium dioxide polymers in the Styrofoam so that once the material is dumped on landfill or into the ocean and exposed to UV light, the Styrofoam will disintegrate into carbon dioxide and water, which equates to less harmful pollution.

There are many little things we can do to contribute to a more environmentally friendly society, such as switching off the lights when we leave a room, turning off the air conditioner when we leave the house, adding insulated panels to our windows and attaching solar panels to our roofs. The list is endless. But while every little helps, these changes are too-little-too-late because, ultimately, it is up to our local authority to enact the kind of legislative reform required to make a real difference. As Dr Tsui so clearly puts it: “No matter how rich or how poor you are, you are subjected to this kind of invisible attack. The government needs to stop with the [political games] and start working on practical solutions to eradicate pollution-induced cancer.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to asking the government for help, every issue seems like an urgent matter. Compared to global threats such as deadly diseases like the zika virus or even more mundane local issues like affordable housing, the largely invisible problem of pollution is all too often pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities.

The public, not just the government, underestimate the drastic consequences of air contamination since the effects are not as apparent as many other similarly pressing matters. But pollution is an urgent problem because it surrounds us all. It’s in the air we breathe, the places we walk and the supposedly safe confines of our own homes. We live and breathe pollution whether we like it or not, so it’s about time we paid attention.

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Red tides in Hong Kong flag failings of small-house policy and officials in denial

The report on the causes of recent red tides by the University of Hong Kong (“Seeing red over algal blooms”, July 30), highlights the woeful performance of the government in controlling marine pollution.

A major source of pollution is sewage from New Territories houses. Houses constructed under the small-house policy are exempted from building regulations and often have individual septic tanks.

Many village houses are part of large development plans, masterminded by developers and the Heung Yee Kuk, which are a blatant abuse of the small-house policy. Fake farming activities are often used to “condition” land before submitting building applications. Despite often being part of a coordinated development plan, house applications are treated individually. Planning authorities do not assess the cumulative impact of siting numerous septic tanks close to environmentally sensitive waters.

There are no plans to extend mains sewage to most New Territories villages and the government refuses to consider environmentally friendly sewage treatment plants for villages.

The Environmental Protection Department’s guidance material for constructing septic tanks is, by its own admission, incomplete.

The material is way behind international best practice, offering no protection to coastlines other than where there is a gazetted beach. Rules in the Water Pollution Control Ordinance, designed to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest, mariculture sites and marinas, are ignored. The Lands Department, which processes individual house applications, uses its own document, which was agreed at a secret meeting between the Environmental Protection and Lands departments in 2009. It further waters down the regulations, for instance, removing the need to assess the suitability of soil conditions for septic tanks in many cases.

Monitoring water quality is haphazard and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is incapable of measuring the minute quantities of pesticides which can be extremely toxic to marine life.

The main function of water quality monitoring appears to be to enable the Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation departments to tell everyone that there is no problem. The government lives in a state of denial of serious marine pollution problems.

The unaccountable, incompetent, complacent and uncaring bureaucrats who are in charge of Hong Kong’s environment will not be happy until the land is covered in concrete and the seas filled with plastic, human excrement and chemicals. So much for Hong Kong’s commitment to the Convention on Biodiversity. Compliance is a cosmetic farce.

David Newbery, Sai Kung

Legco report slams ‘unacceptable’ management of vacant school premises in Hong Kong

Education Bureau and Lands Department both criticised for failure to deliver comprehensive policy to utilise valuable land Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has admitted there is room for improvement in the way his bureau handles vacant school premises, after a Legislative Council committee report slammed its management of the situation as “unacceptable”. The report, published yesterday by the Legco public accounts committee, also criticised the Lands Department.

“Despite the scarcity of land resources, the Education Bureau and the Lands Department have not effectively managed and allocated the vacant school premises under their respective purviews,” the report, which followed up on November’s Audit Commission, said.

The audit watchdog had earlier found that more than 100 closed schools had been lying empty and unused for up to 36 years. Among them, 29 were overseen by the Education Bureau and 73 by the Lands Department. In its report yesterday, the committee expressed “grave dismay” that the bureau had failed to create a comprehensive policy on the effective use of vacant school premises.

In response, Ng said 14 of the 29 premises had been put into use again and nine had been reserved for future educational uses. Four had already been retrieved by the government and nine were on private land, meaning the government would need some time to handle the situation.

“I agree that there is room for improvement in identifying, allocating and managing vacant school premises. We are reviewing the mechanism and we expect it to be completed in the middle of this year,” Ng said. For the 73 premises overseen by the Lands Department, director of lands Bernadette Linn said in December that 24 were being planned for uses by other government offices or interested organisations; 18 were on private land where the school sponsoring bodies had no obligation to deliver possession to the government.

Meanwhile, the committee also criticised the Environment Bureau and the Environmental Protection Department for their “lack of determination” in executing plans to manage municipal solid waste in a “professional and effective manner”.

The government had set a policy to cut municipal solid waste disposal at landfills from 60 per cent in 2004 to 25 per cent by 2014. But as of 2013, 63 per cent of the waste was still heading for dumps.
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Hong Kong green activist given court go-ahead to challenge dumping of waste at Lantau wetland site

On a cold , damp day in a tucked away corner of south Lantau, buffalo stroll casually onto an expansive grassy wetland for a morning graze.

It makes for a tranquil, pastoral sight, apart from the metre-high mounds of rubble and construction waste piled up on several plots of land there. The eyesore at Pui O has irked local residents and villagers for years. Many also fear the buffalo could disappear as the greenery vanishes.

It therefore came as a pleasant surprise for them on Wednesday when the High Court gave the go-ahead for a judicial challenge against the environmental authorities for allowing such dumping on the wetlands, which are on land zoned for coastal protection but with an awkward patchwork of private, corporate and government ownership.

Mui Wo resident Christian Masset, a former chairman of green group Clear the Air, has been given permission to challenge the director of environmental protection’s decisions to allow construction waste to be dumped at four sites near the wetlands between 2014 and this year.

The sites are on the fringe of the wetlands between Ham Tim San Tsuen and Pui O beach, the court heard yesterday.

A visit to the site yesterday revealed that the marsh was still pockmarked with rubble. A mysterious rust-covered, half-built structure lay abandoned in one corner. One conservationist said these were “destroy first, build later” tactics.

“Landowners know officials can’t do much as the land is private and the likelihood of zoning getting changed is higher when the land is degraded,” said Save Lantau Alliance convenor Eric Kwok Ping. “When the opportunity for development comes, they say, ‘what wetland?’”

The Environmental Protection Department declined to comment on the case as the judicial process was under way, but stressed it did not accept any “destroy first, build later” behaviour.

The hearing on Wednesday centred on what Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung called a “vacuum”.

Barrister Jonathan Chang, for the director, argued that the environmental protection chief, once he was approached by a property owner, would acknowledge the request and give permission, but environmental considerations would not be taken into account.

Chang also argued that the Waste Disposal Ordinance suggested the need for a licensing system, but the relevant provision had not yet been put in effect.

The court refused to grant interim relief to Masset, who sought a halt to dumping until the judicial review was completed.

However, Au said Masset, represented by barrister Robin McLeish, was able to demonstrate the environmental risks involved and the sense of urgency in the case. The review is expected to start after both sides file related documents to the court.
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Lack of accountability stinks

Letters to the editor, January 11, 2016

As if the report by the [1] Audit Commission [2] on the Environmental Protection Department is not embarrassing enough (“Hong Kong’s waste problem: a stinking trail of missed targets, data errors and misdirected efforts [3]”, December 1), the Legislative Council’s Public Accounts Committee’s two hearings last month on food waste reduction and recycling will enshrine the department in perpetuity in the Hall of Shame in Mismanagement.

We learned that the department handled the growing problem of food waste, which accounts for 38 per cent of municipal solid waste in Hong Kong, in a piecemeal, disjointed manner. We learned that the department has no idea on how each programme quantitatively contributes to the reduction of food waste, which has increased by 13 per cent from 3,227 tonnes per day in 2004 to 3,648 tonnes in 2013. We learned that targets are either non-existent or not met if they’d been posted. We learned that officials are not accountable for their mistake, and the same consultant who partnered with the department in the mistake continues to advise the department on a bigger project.

After spending HK$150 million and HK$50 million to reduce food waste in schools and private housing estates respectively, the department cannot explain how much food waste was reduced as a result of those programmes. The same goes for the HK$18.7 million spent during 2013 and 2015 in advertising, marketing, and education programmes to promote the department’s signature Food Wise campaign.

Only 26 out of 1,027 business entities provided data on their efforts to reduce food waste on a voluntary basis. No data was provided by the 294 schools who signed onto the Green Lunch Charter on the result of their effort.

Phase one of the Organic Waste Treatment Facilities that was priced at HK$489 million in 2010, with the help of a consultant company which earned HK$8.8 million for its advice, turned out to cost HK$1.53 billion. The Audit Commission pointed out that essential components were underestimated in the initial estimate.

Despite clear evidence in the commission’s report showing mistake in professional judgment, Mr Elvis Au, assistant director of the department, insisted that rising cost and lack of reference price of the facilities were the causes of the cost overrun. Mr Au and the same consulting company have since moved on to manage one of the most expensive project in the department’s history – building an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau.

Is there accountability in Hong Kong?

Tom Yam, Lantau

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We’re all in this together for cleaner air

While the Triple Crown is the epitome of thoroughbred racing, Causeway Bay has just been awarded an informal Triple Crown of sorts – the district has boasted one of the priciest commercial property rents in the world, one of the most tourist-congested shopping space in the world, and now the most polluted district in Hong Kong to boot. Quite an unenviable feat !

It’s fair to ask based on this fact alone, are we going the way of some first-tier Chinese cities which recently issued red pollution alerts?

Latest government statistics showed Causeway Bay’s air pollution was rated “7 (high)” or above on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most serious in the Environmental Protection Department’s Air Pollution Index (API). A “high” rating means people’s health isat risk. It had reached this level 103 days of last year, followed by Mong Kok, which saw 69 days of “high” air pollution level.

The level of fine particles that can penetrate the lungs and are thus hazardous to human health in Causeway Bay was way higher than the World Health Organization’s guideline in most of the days in 2015. Fortunately, it appeared not to be representative of Hong Kong as a whole as the EPD report indicated a slight improvement in our air quality last year. The concentration of nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and respirable suspended particulate were lower than in 2014, although carbon monoxide did rise by 5%. There were 2% less ozone in the air, but its level was still high, increasing by 32% since 1999. There were fewer number of days when Air Quality Health Index was at “high” level or over, compared to 2014.

This is one issue where President John F. Kennedy’s famous exhortation: ‘’Ask not what the country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country’’ is applicable. To effectively tackle our persistent air pollution problem, the government cannot do it all. It needs the crucial cooperation of the entire citizenry.

We’re now past blaming our northern neighbors for our air pollution and must come to grips with the reality that the main source of our current pollution are locally-generated – in particular, from motor vehicles. And we must accept that the government cannot simply disperse our population concentration to the non-existent suburbs as in America. So what do we do?

Perhaps we should start by asking: do you really need a car? The answer for the vast majority of Hongkongers is undoubtedly ‘’no’’, considering our compact size and the world-class public transportation network of many modes.
But if you must, choose a car of right capacity. A single person doesn’t need a large sized car with a large engine. Forming a car pool with your friends or neighbors will help to reduce the pollution by simply reducing the number of vehicles on the road. And don’t forget the concurrent financial savings it will afford all participants.

Fuel combustion from car engines emits nitrogen oxides and suspended particulates, which cause air pollution. These air pollutants are particularly dangerous as they tend to be trapped in the deadly jungle of skyscrapers in Hong Kong.

Beyond the immediate health benefits it will bring to us all, better air quality will no doubt enhance our economic competitiveness as we are more likely to lure more talent and investment to our shores.

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Delta blamed for ozone rise

Vehicle, factory and power plant emissions in the Pearl River Delta have pushed up the ozone level in Hong Kong, although general air quality continued to improve last year compared with 2014, the Environmental Protection Department says.

While preliminary data showed concentrations of all major pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates, dropped in 2015 compared with 2014, the level of ambient ozone dropped slightly by 2 percent but was still 32 percent higher than in 1999.

The assistant director of environmental protection, Mok Wai- chuen, said ozone pollution produced from local emissions showed a decreasing trend over the past year.

“But the increase in the regional background, mainly due to PRD-originating emissions, has led to an overall increase in ambient ozone level,” he said.

Mok stressed that collaboration with the mainland is a must when tackling the increasing level of ozone.

But he did not say what actual measures have been or would be taken.

“The two sides of the government will prepare for a mid-term review on the emission reduction results for 2015 so as to finalize the emission reduction targets for 2020 in order to further improve regional air quality,” he said.

Data showed that Tuen Mun had the worst air quality last year, with 416 hours of the Air Quality Health Index at high or above, followed by Tung Chung with 346 hours.

Principal Environmental Protection Officer Shermann Fong Che-ping said the two areas were mainly affected by ozone.

Asked if the smog in China would possibly affect the SAR air quality, Mok said: “The air quality will be worse if the wind is from mainland because it will bring the pollutants from the land and human activities.”

Mok said the government aims to phase out 82,000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles by the end of 2019.

Three low emission zones have been set up at busy corridors in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok for franchised buses whose emission performances meet Euro IV or above.

He believed that Hong Kong will reduce carbon intensity by 50 to 60 percent by 2020 compared with the 2005 level by committing to its control measures

New collection targets in row over food waste

Environmental authorities have set a new target for the collection of food waste after they were criticized for overstating their achievements in the latest audit report.

The Environmental Protection Department had targeted a daily collection of 86 tonnes of food waste from more than 70 wet markets, managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

But the audit report reviewing the reduction and recycling of food waste found the FEHD supplied only a daily total of 11.5 tonnes.

After conferring with various parties, officials from both departments told the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council yesterday that efforts will be intensified to send 40 tonnes of food waste daily to organic waste treatment facilities now being put in place.

Responding to criticism that the government is not fully utilizing expensive facilities that should handle more than 200 tonnes of food waste daily upon their completion in 2017, EPD officials said they are steadily stepping up their collection of food waste.

Assistant director of environmental protection Elvis Au Wai-kwong said a new contractor has been commissioned to also improve the collection of food waste from financial and commercial companies, apart from collections at wet markets.

The department will also look into expanding collections at public housing estates.

However, Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong said it would take some time before relevant schemes are launched.

“If collection points are not convenient for households, they will be reluctant to dispose of their food waste in bins separate from those for normal rubbish. Some people may also dislike having food waste collected very close to where they live,” Ying said.

Committee member Alan Leong Kah-kit said the EPD and the Environment Bureau have been “relaxed, indifferent and unprofessional” in reducing food waste.

Email Exchange between CTA and EPD on Municipal Solid Waste

date: Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 2:46 PM
subject: Fw: E(15/3607) per capita MSW to landfills

Dear Ronald,

Thank you for clarifying what we though was the situation, anyway

The current ENB/EPD method of announcing waste per capita stats is (deliberately ?) flawed

They seemingly divide the total MSW by 7.24 million which is the population of Hong Kong in 2014 to produce the alleged per capita waste per day figure of 1.35 kgs

However this method ignores the waste generated by 61 million tourists (Q1) the cruise and container / other OGV ships (Q2) and at least the transit/transfer pax passing through Chep Lap Kok and adjacent ferry terminal

Adding these additional numbers to divide into the total MSW would obviously reduce the 1.35 kgs per capita per day alleged by ENB/EPD.

Given that there is no source separation of waste legislation, a vast amount of local MSW is tainted by food waste which comprises 3600 tonnes per day.

This ultra wet taint of course prevents the recycling of materials once tainted by that food waste .

The per capita waste numbers would be far different if the food waste were separated allowing recyclables’ collection. Sadly the Government does not collect recyclables outside of housing estates

yet proposes in future to charge for waste collection under a polluter pays system, when the basics are not in place for separation and recycling in the first place.

And this is ‘Policy’ ?

Kind regards,
James Middleton


Sent: 15 December, 2015 01:58 PM

Subject: Re: Fw: E(15/3607) per capita MSW to landfills

Dear Mr. Middleton,

Thank you for your interest in the coverage of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Hong Kong.

At present, this Department compiles statistics on disposal of solid wastes at landfills based on weighbridge data and other relevant information recorded at entrances of landfills. The MSW are classified into three categories, namely, domestic, commercial and industrial wastes. Please refer to Appendix 1 of the report on ‘Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong’ at the link provided below for more details. Statistics on various categories of solid wastes disposed of at landfills are shown in Plate 2.1 of the report.

On the specific questions you raised, our consolidated reply is given below.

Q1. Why is no allowance apparently made for the 61 million visitors who would contribute to the daily said MSW disposal rates to landfill here ?
Q2. What about the MSW taken off visiting container ships and other Ocean Going Vessels berthing here?
Q3. What consideration is given to MSW deposited / food waste from transit passengers at Chep Lap Kok ?

A1-3: Statistics on wastes generated locally out of economic activities including local consumption by those visitors mentioned in your above questions will be captured when the wastes generated by them are collected and transported to local landfills for disposal. These wastes will be recorded as part of the commercial waste received at landfills and be captured in our solid waste disposal statistics.

Yours faithfully,
Ronald Mak,
Environmental Protection Department


Sent: 09/12/2015 12:32

Subject: E(15/3607) per capita MSW to landfills

Dear Sir,

We have seen in the press that Hong Kong per capita MSW to landfills is 1.35 kgs per capita in 2014

Why is no allowance apparently made for the 61 million visitors who would contribute to the daily said MSW disposal rates to landfill here ?

What about the MSW taken off visiting container ships and other Ocean Going Vessels berthing here?

What consideration is given to MSW deposited / food waste from transit passengers at Chep Lap Kok ?

Kind Regards,
James Middleton

image001 (1)

Overnight arrivals 27 770 459
Same-day arrivals 33 068 377
Average hotel occupancy rate 90%
Average length of stay of overnight visitors 3.3 nights ( ie is that 4 days?)
Overnight arrivals 27, 770, 459 x 3.3 = 91,642,514 equiv days
Same-day arrivals = 33, 068, 377 days