Construction and demolition waste in Hong Kong may be sent to the mainland as there will be no space in the SAR to handle the material by 2005. The proposal, which is being considered by officials, is regarded by the authorities as a medium to long-term solution to the mounting waste problem. The government is preparing to introduce landfill charges next year and a ban on construction waste being dumped in landfills. It is understood that Hong Kong began discussions on the proposal several weeks ago with the State Oceanic Administration. The talks are being viewed as groundbreaking as the mainland authorities issued a dumping ban following a row involving contaminated mud between the Environmental Protection Department and the oceanic administration two years ago. Under the proposal, Hong Kong is seeking to send its construction and demolition waste to Guangdong or other parts of the mainland as filling material for reclamation projects. The proposal is the latest attempt to export waste across the border. The government sent low-level radioactive waste to Guangdong several years ago but was forced to stop this after the province levied high charges. Hong Kong generates about 14 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste each year and has been relying on vast reclamation projects and landfills to accommodate it. However, some reclamation projects, including the Southeast Kowloon development, have been scaled down, and total filling capacity is estimated to drop by about 10 million tonnes by 2005. However, other projects involving excavation, including the East Rail spur line, will produce at least a million tonnes of waste. A 'fill bank' has been set up in Tseung Kwan O as a temporary storage site for the construction waste. It is financed by the government and dumpers are not charged. But there will be no space to handle at least 6.5 million tonnes of waste by 2005 even after additional measures, such as segregation and recycling, are brought in. Henry Chan Chi-yan, a chief engineer at the Civil Engineering Department and the secretary of the government's Fill Management Committee, said: 'We need to know whether the mainland has such a demand. Even if it does, it needs some very co-ordinated timing and effort to match the demand.' It is expected that an increasing number of coastal developments will be carried out in Guangdong, particularly in the Pearl River Delta region, including a 100-hectare reclamation at the landing point of the Western Corridor in Shekou. A senior government official said they had to consider whether the SAR should place a price on its demolition waste or whether Hong Kong would be charged for such waste sent to the mainland. 'This is the question that we have to face,' he said.