Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

December, 2015:

BEAM Society (BSL), which runs the BEAM Plus assessment scheme

Download (PDF, 1.93MB)

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.

ERP submission by Clear the Air

Download (PDF, 780KB)

Download (PDF, 151KB)

Download (PDF, 8.54MB)

Download (PDF, 431KB)

Why HK-Guangzhou express will take more than 48 minutes

The time saving the government touts as a chief benefit of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is unlikely to materialize, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

There may be a total of six stations in the mainland section of the rail link, instead of the four the Hong Kong government has been claiming, the newspaper said.

Since it applied to the Legislative Council in 2009 for funding for the line, the government has said there will be only four stations on the mainland side and that the journey between Hong Kong and Guangzhou will be shortened to 48 minutes by express rail from the 100 minutes the existing train service takes.

Ming Pao reporters have, however, seen for themselves that a total of six stations are ready or under construction in the mainland section of the express link.

New People’s Party legislative councillor Michael Tien Puk-sun, who chairs Legco’s panel on transport, and labor constituency lawmaker Bill Tang Ka-piu, its vice-chairman, said they were not aware of the additional two stations.

They urged the government to provide an explanation.

Responding to media inquiries about the number of railway stations and the number of stops on the train journey between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the Transport and Housing Bureau said it has been in regular communication with the relevant mainland authorities about the operational arrangements for the railway and that the discussions are ongoing.

In the documents the government submitted to Legco in 2009, the four stations in the mainland section are named as Futian, Longhua (now renamed to Shenzhen North), Humen and Shibi (now renamed to Guangzhou South).

At a Legco meeting earlier this month, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung was still saying there will be only four stations on the link’s mainland side.

However, the reporters found two additional stations, Guangming Cheng and Qingsheng, which started operating four years ago, on Dec. 26, 2011.

The official website of the high-speed railway shows that of the average 170 train journeys made between Shenzhen North and Guangzhou South each day, only 18 percent are non-stop.

The other 82 percent make at least one stop, mostly at Humen Station.

Reporters who took the express train found that it requires 36 minutes to travel from Shenzhen North to Guangzhou South with one stop in between.

As Hong Kong and Shenzhen North are over 38 kilometers apart, the journey between them will take about 23 minutes.

The entire journey could take about 59 minutes, and even longer if more stops are made.

Albert Lai Kwong-tak, convener of the Professional Commons, said the Hong Kong government’s failure to inform the public of the latest arrangements regarding the high-speed railway is negligence of duty and a serious slip-up.

Lai hit out at the government for failing to reach agreement with the mainland authorities before making public the service pledge of “reaching Guangzhou in 48 minutes”.

“It’s not up to Hong Kong to decide, and we have no say, as we have footed the bill now while the train journey time and train schedules are under the control of someone else,” Lai said.

Meanwhile, New Territories West lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan, who chairs Legco’s panel on railways, defended the government, saying the authorities are not misleading the public.

Chan said the two new stations are smaller and will not be used as frequently by Hong Kong travelers.

He said the Hong Kong government would enjoy a fair share of input into the decision-making process about the railway, together with its mainland counterparts.

Chan said he believed MTR Corp. (00066.HK) will be able to skip some of the stations in the mainland so as to keep the journey time within 48 minutes.

See the ‘real’ landfill life numbers if we remove the food waste content

Download (PDF, 502KB)

Waste management in Hong Kong/business opportunities

CTA: The Dutch Government recognises Hong Kong ENB failures:

  • – Large quantities of waste are produced and not recycled
  • – Lacking of right incentives and regulation to reduce waste substantially
  • – Landfills will be soon exhausted
  • – Lack of space hampers extension or new landfills
  • – Insufficient infrastructure to handle waste efficiently ??
  • – Public opposition against planned incinerator, public distrust
  • – Not sufficient awareness in HK among residents and business that waste is a problem and solving it will cost money


What HK needs is a comprehensive legislation, regulation, a tax and incentive framework to tackle the waste problem comprehensively. As of yet there are some voluntary schemes which will probably be insufficient. Furthermore, on short notice, HK needs alternative disposal options for its landfills. The end goal should not be just to deal with waste, but also produce less of it at the source and make businesses and consumers active and responsible stakeholders.

CTA: It seems the Dutch were also suckered by the ENB landfill exhaustion  figures

  • – Large quantities of waste are produced and not recycled
  • – Lacking of right incentives and regulation to reduce waste substantially
  • – Landfills will be soon exhausted
  • – Lack of space hampers extension or new landfills
  • – Insufficient infrastructure to handle waste efficiently ??
  • – Public opposition against planned incinerator, public distrust
  • – Not sufficient awareness in HK among residents and business that waste is a problem and solving it will cost money

Overview and data of the market

  • – HK produces around 13500 tons of waste daily, which is mostly disposed of at landfills since there are no large-scale modern waste treatment facilities.
  • – HK’s daily generation and disposal of waste per kg/person rate is high compared to other major Asian cities such as Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei. (CTA: where they have source separation of waste and recycling legislation in place already !)
  • Projections are that the first of the three major landfills will be full in 2014/2015, and the other two by 2018. Therefore, alternatives for landfills are necessary, since HK lacks space to keep extending these on the long term.

CTA: well this borders on misconduct in public office

  1. Recycling Waste EPD figures show that only 1 percent of recycling occurs in HK, the rest of waste for recycling is exported to mainland China. There is virtually no recycling industry in HK. As the government encourages more recycling business, a high demand on advanced recycling technologies or equipment in HK exists.

EPD website states:

However, even if we could achieve these waste reduction targets, there would still be a significant amount of waste left that requires disposal. In the most optimistic scenario, that is, with low waste growth, waste reduction targets achieved and public filling areas continue to be available, the three landfills will be full between 2012 and 2018. On the other hand, in the worst scenario, the three landfills will be exhausted between 2005 and 2008 .


In Hong Kong: Food accounts for a third of all solid waste in Hong Kong

  • 3,200 tonnes of food are sent to landfill every day
  • The volume of food waste has doubled in the last 5 years
  • The remaining capacities of Hong Kong’s three landfills will be exhausted in 2014, 2016 and 2018

Source: Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (2011-2012)

Outlook   Last Revision Date:17 July 2015

The continued growth in wasteloads means Hong Kong is running out of landfill space far earlier than expected, and the existing landfills will be exhausted one by one by 2020 if waste levels continue to increase at current levels.

Unless solutions are identified immediately, we could face a crisis in the next decade of having nowhere to put the thousands of tonnes of waste thrown away each day.

Waste management in Hong Kong/business opportunities

Author: Netherlands Consulate General in HK

Download (PDF, 124KB)

The ’Real’ Hong Kong Landfill capacity numbers

Download (PDF, 476KB)

Hong Kong government can’t meet food waste target at new plant

Officials say costs were underestimated as project was first of its kind

Officials admitted that the government could provide a waste treatment plant in North Lantau with only half the amount of food waste they had earlier estimated.

At a public hearing by the Legislative Council’s public accounts committee today, officials also explained that they underestimated the construction costs of the first phase of the Siu Hoo Wan waste treatment facility by over 200 per cent due to the lack of reference prices for similar projects.

Lawmakers were questioning the officials about an earlier Audit Commission report, which criticised the Environment Bureau for underestimating the construction costs of the plant, ultimately leading to a four-year delay in tendering and commissioning.

The report also questioned whether the government could meet its estimated target of providing the plant with about 86 tonnes of food waste every day.

During the hearing, Vivian Lau Lee-kwan, director of Food and Environmental Hygiene, said her department would be able to provide only about 40 tonnes of food waste from 36 wet markets every day to the plant due to limited resources. “Sorting, collecting and transferring the food waste all involve new resources,” she said.

Facing criticism for the underestimation of the project’s construction costs, assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department Elvis Au Wai-kwong explained that the project was the first of its kind in Hong Kong.

As there was no price reference, the bureau decided to get a tender offer first to obtain a market price before asking the Legco for funding approval, despite the bureau having already estimated in 2010 that the project might cost HK$489 million.

The first offer received in 2011 was “unreasonably high”, said Au, so the bureau cancelled the tender and put out a new one in 2013, which resulted in a “reasonable” offer. In 2014, The Legco’s finance committee approved the bureau’s application for funding of about HK$1.6 billion.

Au said it was difficult to correctly estimate the costs because there were no similar projects in the city and no standard prices across the world for reference.

Regarding doubts over whether the government could meet its target of reducing municipal solid waste per capita by 40 per cent by 2022, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing admitted that the target was “ambitious and progressive”, but said he believed that the Environment Bureau could meet the target with multiple policies and cooperation among different departments.
Source URL:

Pollution, food waste and heavy traffic: what Hong Kong’s chief executive should focus on in 2016

Edwin Lau says Hongkongers shouldn’t hesitate to let Leung Chun-ying know what he can do to make Hong Kong a more liveable place

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s invitation to the public to contribute their views to his preparation for the upcoming policy address is a wonderful opportunity to suggest ways to make Hong Kong more liveable.

Climate change is a pressing global challenge. At the UN climate summit in Paris [2], 20 countries including China and the US launched the Mission Innovation [3] initiative with a collective commitment of US$20 billion to accelerate global clean energy innovation. So how much will the Leung administration commit to the climate challenge?

Here are some suggestions of what we can do:

  • Vegetation targets. Hong Kong is fortunate to have a natural carbon sink in our country parks, as long as we don’t allow housing development to encroach on them. We should set targets for vegetation coverage in the country parks and throughout the city.
  • Des Voeux Road Central. To improve air quality, congested Des Voeux Road Central should be turned into a vehicle-free zone [4], with water features to mitigate the concrete-jungle feel. This would persuade people to walk or take public transport, which is good for public health. Leung should learn from the South Korean government, which removed an elevated highway in Seoul’s city centre to revitalise the Cheonggyecheon stream, now an urban park.
  • Food waste. More than 3,600 tonnes of food waste is created daily in Hong Kong. Although our government plans to build three organic waste treatment facilities between 2016 and 2021, the total daily capacity they can handle is only 800 tonnes, or 22 per cent of our food waste.
  • Hong Kong still does not have a waste charging law. If food waste recycling was made mandatory, all private food waste recyclers would operate round the clock to help achieve the government target of reducing food waste disposal at landfills by 40 per cent by 2022.
  • Energy efficiency. Publicising the energy utilisation index of all buildings would be a cost-effective way to encourage these buildings, through peer pressure, to improve their energy efficiency. Currently, the law requires only commercial buildings to declare their index, whereas government buildings are exempted.
  • Energy savings. There should be a government-led programme for generating “negawatts” – energy saved instead of consumed, which is the cleanest energy of all. If Hong Kong’s 7 million residents each generate just one “negawatt” a day, Hong Kong would save 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The question is, will Leung take the lead and implement these suggestions?

Source URL:

Hong Kong’s first green bus hits the road in government scheme to improve air quality

The new Citybus electric vehicles are being rolled out as part of the government’s green initiative. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The new Citybus electric vehicles are being rolled out as part of the government’s green initiative. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Battery-powered Citybus No 11 travels from Central Ferry Piers to Jardine’s Lookout, with four more to follow within a fortnight (BYD K9R ebus)

The city’s first electric bus in a government initiative to improve air quality made its maiden journey across Hong Kong Island today, with four more expected to start running within a fortnight.

The Citybus circular route No 11 – a battery-powered, single-decker bus with 31 seats – travelled from Central Ferry Piers to Jardine’s Lookout.

Its two-year trial run is part of the government’s HK$180 million scheme to improve air quality by subsidising five franchised bus companies to purchase 36 electric buses and related charging facilities for trial runs on different routes.

Two more Citybus circular routes, No 12 and 25A, are expected to start running today and tomorrow; while two New World First Bus Services’ routes, No 81 and 78, are expected to begin today and on January 5.

The two bus companies expect five more electric buses will be put into service in the first half of 2016, with an extra bus joining each of the five routes.

The buses will be assessed on their operational efficiency, performance under various conditions as well as cost-effectiveness – with the Environmental Protection Department conducting an interim review a year later.

bus 2

A department spokesman said: “As electric buses do not have tailpipe emissions, replacing conventional diesel buses with electric buses can help improve roadside air quality.”

The government is expected to set up a task force to monitor the trial runs, with representatives from franchised bus companies, the Environmental Protection Department and the Transport Department.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced in his policy address last year that the government would promote the use of electric vehicles and fund purchases of electric buses.

In October, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and Hong Kong Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems’ Research and Development Centre rolled out their first locally designed, single-decker electric bus for a month of road tests.

But the bus caught fire earlier this month at a Yuen Long car repair site. The cause is still being investigated.

Source URL: