Hong Kong solid waste strategy knocked backed by legislators
The Hong Kong Government’s Environment Bureau has abandoned a HKD23 billion (USD3 billion) funding request for major solid waste disposal projects, including a waste-to-energy incineration facility, following its failure to gain support from lawmakers.
Faced with the prospect of Hong Kong’s three landfills reaching full capacity in the next few years, the government had proposed building a 3,000 tonne per day Integrated Waste Management Facility on a man-made island south of Lantau Island as well extending one of the exiting landfill sites.
Members of the Legeslative Council’s Environment Panel from across the political spectrum were not welcoming of the Bureau’s current proposals. Some cited concerns over government transition, following a remark by chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying on the role of incineration, while others criticized the government for its poor performance on recycling and waste reduction.
The lawmakers were unconvinced by Environment Minister, Edward Yau Tang-wah’s assertions that the waste plans were essential regardless of who led the next government, and were needed before all landfills were full by 2018.
Despite these warnings, one waste expert was reported by the South China Morning Post to have said that Hong Kong would not immediately plunge into a waste crisis, but that it would be wise for the city to start at least one landfill expansion to ease pressure.
According to the Professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, a waste expert from the Hong Kong Baptist University, was quoted by the SCMP as saying a delay of a year would only have a small impact on the overall waste problem.
Wong said that the delay might give the government more time to come up with effective waste reduction strategies involving waste-charging schemes, but that he believed an incinerator was part of the long-term waste disposal solution.