A LEGAL loophole that allows companies to dump non-hazardous waste in the SAR is to be closed by the Government. The importation of waste for disposal is illegal under the Waste Disposal Ordinance. However, the import and re-export of waste for recycling is allowed. Several cases have emerged since 1996 of companies failing to re-export waste to the mainland as Chinese importers go out of business. The waste was finally dumped in local landfills without charge. Principal Assistant Secretary for Environment, Planning and Lands Steve Barclay said that the Government would tighten its control. One option is to require exporters to obtain approval from the Director of Environmental Protection before dumping waste in Hong Kong and pay the full cost. The landfill cost would only be about $125 a tonne, but the fee for approval would be expensive, said Mr Barclay. 'It will not be cheap. We do not want Hong Kong to become a dumping ground.' Another option is to require all companies to obtain prior approval before importing waste to the SAR, but it would be expensive to process all applications. The administration will also amend the law to ban the importation of hazardous waste from developed countries into or through Hong Kong under the Basel Convention on environmental protection.