As environment officials struggle to force through the legislature plans for landfill expansion and a waste incinerator, the environment minister yesterday said it was time for the city to examine its waste infrastructure for the next three decades.
While any mention of long-term planning for waste infrastructure was absent from the policy address, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing revealed that the government was looking towards reducing the city's dependence on its rapidly filling landfills.
"[Planning] for the next 20 to 30 years, we will commission a study this year on where we can apply technologies … to minimise our dependence on landfills," Wong said at a press conference yesterday.
Wong did not elaborate on the scope of the study and what technologies he was referring to.
At present, the city's key waste infrastructure includes at least three landfills, a chemical waste treatment plant, an under-construction sludge incinerator, a network of eight refuse transfer stations and a recycling park.
While the sludge incinerator and recycling park were approved by lawmakers in 2009 and 2006 respectively, the rest of the facilities were proposed and developed in the 1990s.
"The proposals to build an incinerator [for solid waste] near Shek Kwu Chau and landfill extensions have taken ten years to move on to the current stage of preparation," he said.
Last year, Wong's plans to extend the lives of the landfills were rejected by lawmakers, while the incinerator plan is being challenged in the courts. Wong has vowed to resubmit those plans early this year.
His bureau will continue to take a multifaceted approach to meet the target of reducing waste by 40 per cent in ten years, according to the blueprint he released last year, he said.
The city dumps an average of 3 million tonnes of waste in landfills each year, the only disposal option for household and commercial waste. More than a third is food waste.
In March, lawmakers will visit Europe to learn more about the development of thermal waste treatment technology there.