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Food waste sickens auditor

The Audit Commission slammed the Environment Bureau for taking piecemeal action in controlling food waste, some 1.18 million tonnes of which were disposed in landfills in 2013, up 13 percent from 2004.

The Correctional Services Department and Hospital Authority were among the worst wasters of food.

The commission estimated that an average patient would waste 0.31 kilograms of food each day based on records from all 38 public hospitals from July to August.

A Hospital Authority spokesman said: “In fact, the quantity of food waste in public hospitals has seen a decreasing trend in recent years with the launching of a series of measures such as the save-rice program, adjusting the quantity of food supply to individual patients basing on need.”

He said the authority will “seriously consider” the audit recommendation of periodically publishing food-waste quantity.

Meanwhile, the audit report also pointed out that the HK$16 million Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting Plant may only handle a quarter of the food waste that the government claimed.

The Environment Bureau boasted in 2009 that the plan could handle up to four tonnes of food waste a day, but the audit found that it only handles 0.89 tonnes daily since it was put into use in 2008 up to June this year.

The commission also found that a third of vacant school premises have not been returned to the government even though they have been idle for an average of 11 years, with one school unused for over 35 years.

Another school on a 4,000-square-meter site in Tai Po, vacant since 1996, has not been reused, after the Lands Department was told in a phone call that the building was iconic and serves as a village memorial.

Of 234 vacant school premises in the Education Bureau database, 105 were not being used as of April 30 this year, 102 were being used and 27 had been or would be demolished for housing or other developments.

Of the 105 idle ex-schools, 29 were under the bureau’s purview. Twelve had been allocated for school use but had been idle for up to 11.6 years.

Seventy-three vacant ex-premises are under the Lands Department, among which is a school in the New Territories left idle for 35.6 years.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen described the vacant school campuses as “a pitiful waste.”

Ip added: “The Education Bureau and the government have put the most precious and limited resource in Hong Kong land into waste.”

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