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Don’t waste Eco Park on foreigners: lawmakers

Cheung Chi-fai
May 31, 2005

It could be used for external recyclables if outside firm takes over, panel told

Lawmakers yesterday called for transparent and fair rules to regulate the operator of the proposed recycling park in Tuen Mun to protect smaller local firms from being squeezed out.

They warned that if the park was dominated by heavyweight overseas recyclers, it might become an outlet for imported recyclables despite being designated primarily for locally generated waste.

The park, on a 20-hectare site in Tuen Mun, will cost $316 million, funded by the government. It will house various recyclers.

The Eco Park, formerly named Recovery Park, will be run by a private firm selected by open tender.

The operator, regulated by a land lease or a licence, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the park and will recruit tenants by open tender.

It will be paid a management fee by the government and will collect the rents.

The operator is expected to be chosen by the middle of next year.

The scheme has drawn criticism from lawmakers concerned about how the operator and tenants will be picked and how rents will be set.

They are also worried that major overseas recyclers, which can afford higher rents, might dominate the park and use it as a base to treat imported waste.

‘I am worried it is ultimately the highest-bidding price that determines who is to manage the park and who is able to move in, and this will choke the development of existing local recyclers,’ legislator Lee Wing-tat said at a meeting of the Legco environment panel.

Mr Lee said recyclers’ track record in Hong Kong should be a criterion in the selection.

Panel chairwoman Choy So-yuk echoed Mr Lee’s concern. She claimed the government had already chosen an American operator to run the park, but this was immediately denied by officials.

‘I have never heard a single company being named already,’ environmental protection director Keith Kwok Ka-keung said.

In response to lawmaker’s concerns, he said the operator and recyclers would be required to process recyclables generated locally, though there would be some flexibility regarding limited material from outside Hong Kong.

Mr Kwok reiterated that the rental arrangement and land allocation procedures would be laid down in the land lease or operation licence. ‘We will not leave the operator a free hand to run it as it wishes … but at the same time we need to rely on market forces to make the park work towards the goal of value-added recycling industries,’ he said.

Mr Kwok said the Eco Park was the ‘missing link’ Hong Kong had to fill to ensure expanded waste-separation efforts being planned would not be for nothing.

The first phase of the park is expected to be operating by the end of next year.

and the story is:

EPD explains the depth of local HK recycling =98.6 tonnes per day

“Waste reduction and recycling are very important elements of the local waste management framework. They help both to conserve natural resources and to reduce demand for valuable landfill space.

Through the existing waste recovery system, about 3.60 million tonnes of municipal solid waste were recovered in Hong Kong in 2010. Of that total, 1% was recycled locally and 99% was exported to the Mainland and other countries for recycling, with an export earning of HK$8.6 billion for Hong Kong.”

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