Search for alternatives as waste bill stalls

Local | Mandy Zheng 17 Jun 2020

The government will seek alternative refuse collection methods as legislation for a waste charging scheme continues to be on hold, according to environment secretary Wong Kam-sing.

Speaking yesterday, Wong referred to the 16-year-delayed bill on the Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme, which would require a fee for the collection of waste if passed.

Lawmakers expected that the bill is likely to stall again as the current legislative session ending next month may not have enough time to process it.

But Wong said the government is determined to continue its eco-friendly efforts, with multiple measures to be carried out soon.

"Hong Kong, like many other big cities, will not stop the process of reducing waste and recycling," he added.

One measure is to expand food waste collection at some residential estates for electricity generation by the end of this year, utilizing high-tech recycling machines, according to Wong.

The project has already been implemented in commercial establishments and government facilities since 2018.

"We will introduce some smart recycling machines to collect food waste, which has been adopted in lots of Asian countries like South Korea," he said.

"The concept is to keep citizens' surroundings clean and sanitary when recycling food waste, as more people are concerned about hygiene during the pandemic."

Wong said the waste would be sent to a power plant at Siu Ho Wan on Lantau, which deals with organic resources.

He expected that at least 20 tonnes of waste would be processed daily, with the project's energy efficiency higher than that of a solar power system.

Wong said the government will also subsidize companies in the environmental industry to hire more fresh graduates.

Details of the green employment project are scheduled to be announced this week and will include more than 1,000 posts with about half of them being temporary jobs.

Meanwhile, a pilot scheme for recycling plastics has been ongoing in Eastern district since January, according to Wong.

Contractors participating in the project provide free collection for plastic waste at residential estates, schools and public institutions to reuse the materials to produce new plastic items.

Wong said the scheme will be introduced in Kwun Tong and Sha Tin within this year as well.

He added that the government would finish its research on disposable tableware before deciding whether to draft a bill to ban their use and adopt alternatives.

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