• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:56pm
NewsHong Kong
ENVIRONMENT

Hong Kong government to propose cutting food waste by 40 per cent by 2022

Use of organic treatment centres to ease burden on landfills, but education will play a vital role

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 4:43pm

A plan to slash food waste by up to 40 per cent in the next nine years will be set out in a paper to be released today.

The scheme will emphasise cutting waste at source and building treatment centres, although the government acknowledges that treatment is not a long-term solution.

The objective is more ambitious than a previous plan that aimed at a 10 per cent reduction over three years to next year.

Food waste at present accounts for a third of rubbish dumped in the city's landfills.

A source familiar with the plan said the target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2022 was in line with an objective of cutting overall waste per person by 40 per cent by the same year, set out in a blueprint released last year.

The pledge comes as environment officials prepare again to seek preliminary support from lawmakers on Monday for extending the Tseung Kwan O landfill and building a waste incinerator. The landfill plan was rejected by legislators last year, while the incinerator faces a court challenge.

Last year the city dumped an average 9,278 tonnes of waste a day in landfills with about 3,337 tonnes, or 36 per cent, being food waste. About 75 per cent of the food waste was thrown away by households. The share for businesses dropped from 29 to 24 per cent last year - about 800 tonnes a day.

The source said the food-waste reduction could be partly achieved by building more organic waste treatment centres. Two centres are planned - on North Lantau and in the northern New Territories - with a combined 500-tonne daily capacity.

But the source said there was a limit to the extent that end treatment could be replied upon.

"We cannot build these plants indefinitely as we must address the problem at its root," the source said, noting it was difficult to find sites for the plants, as there was competing demand for land, such as for housing.

Reduction at source would be the right direction and could be achieved with more publicity and education like the Food Wise programme launched last year that encouraged consumers to order, and food suppliers to provide, appropriate amounts of food.

The plan is not expected to support wider use of composting machines at housing estates, given their low capacity.

Another possible outlet for unwanted food will be donations to the needy or charity.

Friends of the Earth environmental affairs officer Celia Fung Sze-lai wants the government to enact a so-called Good Samaritan law on food donations.

"The law can give better protection to donors if there are problems with the food," she said, adding that such a law should be the responsibility of the Food and Health Bureau.

The plan will also address the 150 tonnes of yard waste - trees, leaves and other unwanted vegetation - produced daily.

It is expected that composting such waste will be promoted in public parks, while tree trunks and bigger pieces of vegetation could be recycled.

The source said the government would take the lead in using fewer unnecessary pot plants.

According to estimates by the government, the proposed incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau will cost HK$18.2 billion to build, 22 per cent more than the previous estimate made in 2011.

The cost of the Tseung Kwan O landfill extension has gone up by 5 per cent to HK$1.9 billion.

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This article is now closed to comments

cleareye
Perhaps you may want to think again because you have only diverted your food waste to the sewage system that Hong Kong has only a limited capacity to process. If everyone installs a "Insinkerator" then our sewage system would overflow and face stoppage, and toilets of lower floor flats may face the "Striking Oil Phenomenon" due to back pressure from higher floor flushes.
Moreover, it would cost more to process at the sewage treatment plant as organic wastes would have to be crushed, treated, and dried before being sent to the landfills. The equation remains the same, only the cost increases.
Suggest you remove your "Insinkerator" and use it as a door stopper.
newgalileo
Food waste is one of the topics in my book Toxic Capitalism. The problem is often overlooked, both in developed and developing countries. Even in China the problem is serious, even China Daily mentioned the waste in universities. Instead of blaming the government, we have to start ourselves not wasting food, at home and eating out. Unfortunately Chinese people (among others) are known to waste food during lavish banquets and buffets, piling up food they won't finish. Supermarkets in Hong Kong also waste tons of food instead of distributing it to the poor and often the expiry dates make little sense. Education is the first step.
zvichadashote
How about banning or cutting back on some of the hotel buffets? Oh, sorry, that might anger some of the Mainland tourists!
rpasea
I installed an insinkerator garbage disposal at the kitchen sink and we have almost zero organic waste leaving our flat. Larger equipment can be installed in each block or in each estate to dispose of organic waste at the source. Ditto for restaurants and food factories. Setting up major plants for this and the corresponding need for transport and handling defeats the purpose.
keithkklau@gmail.com
Education is definitely important. Tough message needs to be sent out to the public about how wasteful Hong Kong people are. Also those Legco members and media also need to put the waste disposal issue back to individual responsibility rather than blaming the government.
HiggsSinglet
this will be a good thing if they can make it happen!!!
dynamco
"Reduction at source would be the right direction + could be achieved with more publicity + education"
The Govt knows full well that this will not work;
we need Laws to force mandatory separation of food waste at source
we need a Green Bin collection system for food waste provided by the Govt FOC
the food waste in HKG is of low quality with wet market waste 90% + Mall waste already 78% water content so any digestate will be of poor quality
our existing sewage system could easily handle our food waste after pulping given the high water content already
Mandatory separation of food waste would leave dry MSW that could grow local recycling businesses
Of course our EPD should be at the forefront of this, instead they seek to mass-burn all our unsorted waste in a massive retrograde step that also mandates the extension of landfills for 30% by weight ash that will be produced daily
www.smgov.net/Departments/PublicWorks/ContentRecycling.aspx?id=16222
Santa Monica example Free Green Bin collection
www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/environment-and-waste/waste-a-recycling/food-caddy
Derbyshire
www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/at-home/food-waste
South Australia
www.catergreen.com/foodwasterecycling.html
Los Angeles
www.stockport.gov.uk/services/environment/wasterecycling/recycling/rightthingrightbin/greenbin/
Stockport UK
dynamco
just the opposite
Stonecutters CEPT tanks alone have a capacity by 2016 of 2.7 million cubic meters per day of waste water
The current load is less than 50% of that capacity
The food waste is only 3,500 cubic meters per day which is inconsequential
rod.averbuch.7
The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. We should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration on supermarket shelves causes waste.
The consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior might be one of the weakest links of the fresh food supply chain.
Why not utilize the new open GS1 DataBar standard to encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill?
The “End Grocery Waste” application, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste site.
Rod,
Chicago, IL

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