Landfill extension plan kickstarts waste disposal system overhaul
New rubbish collection routes and mandatory tailgate covers for trucks part of plan to win support for expanding Tseung Kwan O dump
The city's waste collection and disposal network and operation will undergo an overhaul to prepare for a proposed ban on smelly household waste at the Tseung Kwan O landfill.
Under the plan, devised to win support from nearby residents for an extension of the landfill, only construction refuse will be dumped there with all other waste being sent to tips in Tuen Mun and Ta Kwu Ling.
Disclosing the plan yesterday, the Environmental Protection Department said the diversion of an estimated 2,000 tonnes of waste a day would require the creation of about 30 new collection routes and would also push up costs.
At the same time, the government plans to spend about HK$18 million to help private operators fit tailgate covers and wastewater tanks to their trucks to reduce nuisance.
"This is an initiative we're launching that will benefit the whole of Hong Kong, and not just Tseung Kwan O residents," Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said.
The ban on offensive refuse in Tseung Kwan O was promised by environment officials as they tried in vain to win residents' support for extending the landfill - due to reach capacity in 2015.
The plan will also require opening up the Sha Tin refuse transfer station to private operators so they can dump their waste there after the ban takes effect. The station, one of seven across the city where waste is compressed before being moved to landfills, is now used only by government vehicles.
To encourage operators to use the stations, fees will be lowered from HK$40 to HK$30 at four - Island East, Western, West Kowloon and Sha Tin.
Tailgate covers and wastewater tanks will be mandatory on all collection vehicles. Officials plan to seek funding to give about 300 private operators HK$50,000 subsidies for the work.
An Environmental Protection Department spokeswoman said the government was still in the planning stages of rerouting the 150 rubbish collection trucks run by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
"Waste diversion is a big move and will need much discussion," she said. "A comprehensive system is needed."
Diverting waste to other sites will bring most transfer facilities close to their full capacity, so the government is now also searching for suitable sites in Kowloon East for more stations, preferably in rock caverns with sea access.
Legal amendments and funding requests for the diversion plan as well as the retrofit of waste vehicles will be submitted to the legislature by the end of the year.
But an official, speaking anonymously, said all the plans hinged on whether the funding application for extensions of all three of the city's landfills were approved by the Legislative Council. They will be filed early next year.
"We know landfills are not the best way to deal with waste, but as other facilities take time to build, we need to expand our landfills for now," she said.
The government has said it needed the extensions to take rubbish until a planned incinerator - itself a controversial project - could be built.