Government push for infrastructure in waste reduction plan

Projects, Slider 22 May 2013
Government push for infrastructure in waste reduction plan

Danny Chung

The government is renewing a push for more waste management infrastructure in its drive to achieve ambitious targets set in a new waste management blueprint.

In its report “Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022” released Monday, the Environment Bureau outlined a comprehensive strategy, targets, policies and action plans for waste management.

A three pronged approach would be adopted consisting of policies and legislation, territory-wide waste reduction campaigns and finally, allocating resources to enhancing waste-related infrastructure.

The infrastructure facilities consist of waste treatment facilities, waste-to-energy integrated waste management facilities and landfill extensions.

The report said while some measures were done well, there were major missing elements in the waste infrastructure and the government was already filling in the gaps.

A sludge treatment facility at Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun is scheduled for completion by end of 2013 to treat all of Hong Kong’s sludge generated from the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme and regional sewage treatment works while Hong Kong’s first Organic Waste Treatment Facility (OWTF) is still under planning.

Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing (centre) wants to reduce per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste by 40 percent to 0.8 kilograms per day  by 2022. (HKSAR Government)

Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing (centre) wants to reduce per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste by 40 percent to 0.8 kilograms per day by 2022. (HKSAR Government)

Contractors have until 5 July to submit tenders to the Environmental Protection Department for the design, construction, operation and maintenance for organic waste treatment facilities phase 1 at Siu Ho Wan in North Lantau.

“Before long, we will need to commit to a second OWTF, and we also need to build a sizable integrated waste management facility (IWMF) with enhanced capacity to turn waste to energy and deal with [municipal solid waste] that has not been taken out of the waste stream,” the report said.

The report said a second OWTF is planned for commissioning by 2017 while a search will be conducted for a third and more OWTFs.

The government’s earlier plan for an IWMF, a waste incinerator to be built on an artificial island next to Shek Kwu Chau island to the south of Lantau Island, is currently mired in a judicial review over the environmental impact assessment for the project.

The report warned the territory’s three landfill sites at NENT in northern New Territories, SENT in Tseung Kwan O and WENT in the western New Territories would be full from 2015 to 2019 and as such needed extensions now to extend their operating life.

The road to NENT. According to the Environment Bureau's report on waste reduction, at the present rate of use,  the Northeast New Territories (NENT) landfill will be full in 2017.  (Danny Chung)

The road to NENT. According to the Environment Bureau’s report on waste reduction, at the present rate of use, the Northeast New Territories (NENT) landfill will be full in 2017. (Danny Chung)

In March last year, the Environment Bureau submitted funding proposals to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Environmental Affairs for the incinerator and extensions to the three landfills.

The bill for the incinerator in particular was estimated at HK$14.96 billion in money-of-the-day (MOD) prices while the total cost for extensions to the three landfills was HK$8.42 billion at MOD prices.

However the panel threw out the funding request the following month.

The panel will review a new funding request for the landfill extensions with cost now at HK$8.95 billion at MOD prices, up 6.2 percent compared with the last funding request.

A WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equiptment) treatment plant at EcoPark in Tuen Mun is also planned.

A review of the charging scheme for construction waste will also be carried out.

All this spending on infrastructure along with other waste reduction measures was directed at one target, reducing per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste from the current 1.27 kilograms per day to 0.8 kilograms by 2022, a reduction of 40 percent.

However, the Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing admitted yesterday that the target may not be met if the government lost the judicial review.

“If the government loses that one, it will be a long hard battle to get other sites approved,” a former senior official at Lands Department said.

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