Chief Secretary for Administration | The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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Early planning in environmental protection is a key to success

24 February 2019

In the past few weeks, everyone was, I believe, very busy celebrating the Lunar New Year (LNY) and sharing precious moments with friends and family in various festive activities.

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We should, however, not forget environmental protection during the festive season.  Large-scale activities like LNY fairs indeed provided us with an opportunity to show our commitment to waste reduction.  This year, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), the Environmental Campaign Committee and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department extended the scope of the Green LNY Fair programme to cover 15 LNY fair venues across the territory, with a view to promoting the messages of “use less, waste less” and waste recycling by implementing more waste reduction and recycling measures.

Through the concerted efforts of stall operators, members of the public, green groups and all related departments, the amount of materials recovered from the Green LNY Fairs increased significantly to 172 tonnes, representing a year-on-year increase of more than 60%.  The EPD has arranged for the materials recovered to be upcycled or recycled.  Besides, over 80 000 pieces of leftover materials have been distributed or donated to groups and individuals in need in order to achieve full utilisation of resources.

Peach blossom trees (PBTs), a popular new year flower, can also be recycled and reused.  The EPD is providing a PBTs Recycling Service from 18 to 25 February 2019.  The collected flowers will be processed and recycled into useful materials such as mulches and composts for gardening purposes.  Please do not miss the chance to deliver your unwanted PBTs to the designated collection points by tomorrow as a step to conserve resources and reduce waste.

While receiving red packets is the most favourite activity for children during the LNY, it is also a great chance for promoting environmental protection.  Education plays a key role in environmental protection.  Hence, parents should set a good example by collecting all used red packets for reuse next year or delivering them to green groups for recycling, in order to show their children the importance of environmental protection and to contribute to a greener future.

In collaboration with non-governmental organisations, the Government operates a Community Recycling Network (including 17 recycling centres, 2 recycling vehicles and 50 collection points) and 7 Community Green Stations (CGSs) with a view to supporting waste reduction and recycling, and promoting environmental education and a green living culture in the community.  From project launch to the end of 2018, the CGSs collected over 4 200 tonnes of recyclables, received more than 790 000 visitors and conducted more than 4 000 environmental education events.

The materials collected through various channels, including those mentioned above, are treated by local recyclers.  The Government attaches great importance to the development of the local recycling industry and launched a $1-billion Recycling Fund in October 2015 to facilitate the upgrading of the operational capabilities and efficiency of the industry.  As at the end of 2018, 215 applications were approved under the Recycling Fund, of which 170 projects have commenced or will soon commence operation, involving about $130 million of funding.  We are conducting a mid-term review of the operation of the Recycling Fund and have implemented a series of initial enhancement measures since January this year.  Such measures include a new rental subsidy scheme and simplification of application procedures.  The remaining enhancement measures are expected to be introduced in the second half of the year.

Over 90% of the materials recovered in Hong Kong will be exported to other places for recycling.  In order to explore more efficient and diversified waste handling solutions, we are endeavouring to help the local recycling industry to thrive.  As waste paper makes up the largest proportion of the recyclables in Hong Kong, we have accorded priority to the development of waste paper recycling and manufacturing business.  In December 2018, the Government awarded a lease for the construction of a waste paper recycling and manufacturing plant in the EcoPark in Tuen Mun.  The plant is expected to start operation in 2022 or early 2023 and will be capable of processing 300 000 tonnes of local waste paper a year, i.e. about one-third of the total amount of waste paper recovered in Hong Kong each year.  It will be the first one established in Hong Kong since the closure of the local paper mills some ten years ago.  The initial plan is to produce high-strength corrugated paper, semi-dry pulp and other materials which will be sold locally and outside Hong Kong.

In addition to adequate waste recovery efforts, it is also important to reduce waste at source.  While the Government will be committed to promoting environmental protection, energy conservation and waste reduction, all its efforts will be in vain without the cooperation of the community.  At the beginning of the year, let us join hands to make Hong Kong an environmentally-friendly, low-carbon and liveable city and to build a green home for the next generation.