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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 7:15pm
NewsHong Kong
ENVIRONMENT

Christine Loh pledges targets on food waste recycling by end of the year

Environment deputy to tackle concern over waste disposal charges with plan to cut amount of food dumped in landfills by end of the year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 3:24pm

A plan to handle food waste will be rolled out by the end of the year, with ambitious targets to cut the amount now being dumped in landfills, Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai said.

The move will go some way to tackling public concerns about whether there will be alternative ways to dispose of food when the Environment Bureau introduces charges for the disposal of household waste by 2016.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Loh said food waste was an important aspect of the overall waste management strategy. "We hope to publish the plan at the end of the year so people can see a fuller description of what Hong Kong needs to do to reduce food waste, to get people to separate food waste, and how to collect and treat food waste," she said.

Earlier this year, the bureau issued a 10-year blueprint for sustainable use of resources. It aims to cut the amount of waste dumped by 40 per cent by 2020.

Food takes up the most space in landfills - about 40 per cent. Only a negligible amount is recycled as animal feed or compost.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying vowed to eliminate food waste in his election platform, but Loh said there was a limit to how much could be recycled.

"Even if we were very good at recycling food waste, there would still be a portion that would need to be dealt with in other ways," she said. Environment officials have proposed building more organic waste treatment centres, as well as two planned in Siu Ho Wan and in North District.

Green stations for waste separation will also be set up.

Loh said Hong Kong, unlike Taiwan or South Korea, did not have the agricultural capacity to recycle food waste on a large scale by turning it into pig feed.

Loh said her bureau was also considering what recycling policy the city could establish. These ideas would be put to a task force chaired by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Loh said there had been confusion among the public over whether recycling should be introduced before landfills were extended or rubbish incinerated.

But Loh said all three methods were needed and her bureau was trying to get the message across. "The people clearly want us to do more, but they don't trust us to do it. So this is an interesting situation," she said.

In July the government tried to seek funding from the Legislative Council to expand the Tuen Mun, Tseung Kwan O and Ta Kwu Ling landfills. It withdrew the Tseung Kwan O plan amid strong opposition and lawmakers deferred scrutiny of the other two sites.

The government says the expansions are needed to stave off a waste management crisis until it completes the construction of a controversial incinerator in 2023.

Loh said the bureau would return to Legco for both landfill and incinerator funding early next year. She said the longer the city waited, the more costly such infrastructure would be due to rising construction costs.

"Time is squeezing us. People should understand that the community does need to make a decision … Let's take it in 2014, not 2017," she said.

"It is important we keep going, both the legislature and the administration, as one body. Without each other, we don't go forward on policy.'

 

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dynamco
Hong Kong has no farming industry. Pig feed or fertilizer or compost do not have a market here.
The two digestate facilities that are out to tender will eventually be able to handle 500 tonnes of the 3300 cubic meters of food waste we produce each day. These facilities will produce 20 tonnes of compost PER DAY. Where would that be used ? It cannot be exported to China. HK food waste is the wettest in the world @ 90% water ex wet markets @< 3MJ /kg calorific value. You cannot burn it w/o using additional energy as u need 7 MJ/kg for combustion
We have a ready & willing system at Stonecutters that could handle our daily food waste without a blink.
It can now handle 1.7 million m3 of waste water per day - as of 2016 Stonecutters can handle 2.45 million m3 of waste water per day. 3.300 m3 of 90% water food waste is miniscule.
Food waste could be collected as Green Bin waste is in places like Santa Monica & taken to local HK transfer stations, fed into large grinders & the pulp fed direct into our sewerage system.
The advantage of course is that without wet food waste corrupting the integrity of the dry recyclable waste, local recycling industries could blossom & we would not need landfill extensions, nor landfills for that matter - these could be reverse mined to extract the buried gold using small plasma gasification plants.
HK Govt is too conservative.
The people should mandate to move to new technology & ideas & fire the ENB back-office policy hangers-on .
newgalileo
Food waste is unfortunately a universal problem and even China does not do that well. It is part of cycle of waste and lack of respect for the environment, as explained in the book Toxic Capitalism. At least one could hope a city like Hong Kong could try to show a way to deal with it. Education and changing attitudes is probably the most important factor.
seanniem
Food need not be waste, if properly composted and used back as nutrients to grow food.
Please read my comment below.
Food is a cycle alright, but not necessarily a cycle of waste but a cycle of life. Problem with human beings is that we want the environment to suit us instead of us suiting the environment.
Carparklee
Good reporting. I personally hope that hypocrites like Fang Kwok San 方國珊 or Gary Fan 飯殻龜 can really spend time to read news article like this and rethink about their stands on the issue.
seanniem
Best way to roll out the food recycling programme is to concurrently promote LOCAL FARMING.
Local farming will increase demand for food composting, which means any un-consumed food become ASSETS rather than LIABILITIES.

> Food recycling > Composting > Local farming
> Less dependence on food imports
> Less fossil fuel used for transporting imported food into the city
> Smaller carbon footprint and less roadside pollution
This will of course cross path with land use policies on how to deal with (lazy+greedy) idle-land owners who have no intention of farming, just simply waiting/hoping for redevelopment.
aplucky1
oh shut up loh
you left wing waste of space
where was your big fat mouth when the little man was on strike a few months ago
i know you were on holiday taking your private jet, you are a disgusting hypocrite
dynamco
santamonica.patch.com/groups/going-green/p/solar-powered-trash-cans-talk-to-the-city
www.smgov.net/Departments/PublicWorks/ContentRecycling.aspx?id=16222
www.smgov.net/Departments/PublicWorks/ContentRecycling.aspx?id=10010
www.barnet.gov.uk/info/530/garden_and_food_waste/159/garden_and_food_waste
www.zerowaste.lacity.org/home/index.html
www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpJBhZCS7YE
XYZ
I do not doubt Ms. Loh's sincerity in wishing to improve Hong Kong's waste disposal practices. Regrettably, solutions to societal problems for high-minded liberals such as Ms. Loh usually involve coercive fines, penalties or taxes to change the unenlightened habits of "the little people", whilst higher-income people can easily afford the payments or get someone else to attend to the inconvenient details (think of the plastic bag levy, for example). Meanwhile, the elites bask in the warm psychic glow of believing that they're superior beings for having "done something to save the planet" when, in fact, their lifestyles are completely unaffected, and their domestic helpers and poorer neighbors must deal directly with the messy aftermath.
XYZ
I now see that Ms. Loh has written a letter published in today's SCMP that confirms everything I referenced above!

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