Hong Kong to Spend $4 Billion on Waste Management, Loh Says

Hong Kong will spend at least HK$31 billion ($3.9 billion) building infrastructure to handle waste through 2021, as it seeks to alleviate a space shortage at landfills.

The government is considering facilities treating food waste, expanding landfills and building incinerators, Christine Loh, undersecretary for environment, said today at a conference in Hong Kong.

The city’s plans to expand landfills at its nature reserves and build large incinerators have met with opposition from lawmakers and environmental groups, stalling earlier proposals by the government. Existing landfills will be full within seven years, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a Jan. 16 policy address.

“We are going to have to build a whole range of hardware to deal with the waste we aren’t able to reuse, recycle,” Loh said.

Part of the proposed spending includes two food waste treatment plants and landfill expansions, Loh said. Food leftovers represent about 40 percent of the city’s trash going into dumps.

The government is building an incinerator in Tuen Mun, in northwest Hong Kong, Loh said.

Hong Kong wants to increase its recycling rate for materials including metals, glass and paper to 55 percent from 48 percent, Loh said. To achieve this goal, the government wants to allocate ship berths for recyclers and implement a levy on each glass bottle, she said.

“Quite a lot of our recycled waste is exported -- paper, metal, aluminum,” said Loh. “The recycling industry has complained for many years they don’t have any dedicated berth, terminals, sites for them to do the exports. We are now looking for some dedicated space for them.”

The bottle levy would place a charge on the producers of glass containers imported into Hong Kong, which would then be passed on to consumers, she said.

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