Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

December 3rd, 2008:

Green group blames charges for rise in dumped building waste

South China Morning Post — 03 Dec 2008

Illegal dumping of construction waste has increased since the government began charging contractors for dumping it three years ago, conservancy group Green Council said yesterday.

The group said this was illustrated by an annual coast-cleaning drive in which construction waste had figured among the top 10 pollutants for the first time.

About 7,500kg of rubbish was raked up by 2,100 corporate and student volunteers in the local leg of International Coastal Cleanup from September to last month, which scoured almost 42km of coastline.

Construction materials ranked ninth – or 1.9 per cent of the total – with 1,649 pieces. “There is probably a lot more construction waste out there since we only targeted beaches that the public would go to,” said Linda Ho Wai-ping, Green Council chief executive. Construction debris had not figured significantly before.

“[Dumping] has been a big problem since the government came up with the law in 2005,” said Ms Ho, who described the situation as “a worrying trend in marine ecology”. “It is something that the government should address,” she said.

Contractors are charged HK$27 to HK$125 for every tonne of waste going to government waste sites, including landfills and sorting facilities.

Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, Shek O beach and the Lamma Island beach Nga Kau Wan had been hardest-hit by construction rubble, Green Council said.

Volunteers also recovered a record amount of broken glass, mostly from popular seafood areas including Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma and Lei Yue Mun. At 55,650 pieces, they topped the list, followed by plastic bags and polystyrene boxes.

The group said it was common for coastal eateries to throw glass bottles into the sea, to avoid transporting them to dump sites.

Studies found glass bottles would take 1 million years to fully disintegrate, council project manager Thierry Chan Tak-chuen said. Plastic bags take 10 to 20 years.

Green Council urged the government to include glass in its recycling policy and step up its beach inspections and cleaning efforts.

A Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokesman said all its beaches were cleaned daily.

The Environmental Protection Department said it was not recycling glass because it had a lower scrap value. It was trying to extend a glass recycling scheme for hotels, launched last month, to other sectors.