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Widespread waste charges are essential

Letters to the Editor, June 26, 2013

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 12:00am


Widespread waste charges are essential

Nowadays, it seems that all political parties oppose the landfill extension proposals, not just for Tseung Kwan O, but for the other districts.

The government seems stuck, partly through its own weakness, and it now faces strong opposition on environmental and other issues in society. However, discussions were more rational when former environment secretary Sarah Liao Sau-tung presented the 10-year Waste Reduction Framework Plan in 2005, where landfill extensions and incineration were included.

It received considerable acceptance from various stakeholders, as it was comprehensive, holistic approach to waste management that put the emphasis on policies that were likely to boost waste avoidance, coupled with the necessary end-of-pipe measures.

As a green group, Friends of the Earth (HK) understands the need for waste avoidance policies and waste treatment facilities to achieve holistic waste management.

But the government must act swiftly and do more in the area of waste avoidance instead of giving high-profile support for landfill extensions and incineration.

I visited Taipei City recently on a study trip focusing on waste management. There are many good practices that our government should learn from.

Taipei introduced legislation on waste charging by volume in 2000, and its government has subsidised waste recycling so that residential estates and commercial buildings can collect over 10 different types of recyclables. These subsidies are needed for recyclables with a low market value. The city authorities also employed workers to look after recycling facilities at housing estates every evening for three hours, to teach residents to dispose of various types of recyclables in collection bins.

To effectively tackle the big growth in waste in Hong Kong, the top priority should be waste charging for the whole society. Landfills are inevitable but in order to lengthen their lifespan and avoid future extensions, they should not accept waste that has not gone through certain treatment processes. If the waste is recyclable, it should be banned from landfills.

Only with these policies can we solve our critical waste problem.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director-general affairs, Friends of the Earth (HK)

“The emissions will fully comply with the internationally most stringent, European Union emission standards for modern waste incinerators.”
I suggest Mr Blinkers Au and Legislators read these reports:

see what peer reviewed data from Spain states about living downwind of modern incinerators

Sell the MSW to Europe. It’s a commodity there. They cannot get enough for their outdated E2W plants.

No trucks needed to deliver waste

In his letter (“No denying this view of waste plan”, June 14), John Steventon stated that a long bridge would be built from South Lantau to the island of Shek Kwu Chau for thousands of refuse trucks to deliver waste to the proposed integrated waste management facility.

This is untrue. No such bridge or trucks are needed. The municipal solid waste will be compacted into enclosed containers at the existing refuse transfer stations and the containers will be transported to the facility by marine vessels in a clean and efficient manner.

At present, this waste is delivered from the refuse transfer stations on Hong Kong Island and in West Kowloon by specialised vessels to the landfill for disposal. The Environmental Protection Department has 20 years’ experience delivering containerised waste by sea efficiently without causing any littering problems or nuisance.

Mr Steventon was concerned about the smoke emissions from the waste management facility.

The emissions will fully comply with the internationally most stringent, European Union emission standards for modern waste incinerators.

Many such modern incinerators are being operated around the world. It will not cause any unacceptable environmental impacts.

We will set up an open and transparent monitoring system and provide the public with easy access to the emission monitoring data.

Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection


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