More jobs could be created through further development of the environmental industries, the new environment minister Edward Yau Tang-wah told legislators yesterday. He pledged to listen to the views of legislators in finding ways to support those industries as long as it was in line with maintaining a level business playing field. His comment came as the legislature endorsed an amended motion from the labour sector's Kwong Chi-kin, who called for a comprehensive government policy to assist the development of green industries, in particular waste recycling. This should include funding, manpower training, land provision and green procurement, Mr Kwong said. Mr Kwong said that as most waste-recycling industries were labour-intensive, they could ease unemployment among lower-skilled workers. Waste recycling would not just create a lot of business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, but also provide flexible work for part-timers, he said. 'We cannot miss these business opportunities. What we lack now is a government policy to encourage waste recovery.' During the debate, some legislators pointed out that most of Hong Kong's collected waste could be recycled locally if there was a strong recycling industry, but in reality most of it was being exported. About 6.2 million tonnes of waste was generated last year, and only 2.84 million tonnes were recovered. Of the recovered waste, only 110,000 tonnes was treated locally, about 50,000 tonnes less than in the previous year. Lawmakers said this reflected badly on the performance of local recycling. In response, Mr Yau said the government had already taken steps to improve waste collection by introducing a scheme to separate waste at the source. This already covered 30 per cent of the population. Also, Eco-Park, offering land for longer-term leases at lower rents, had also been opened and would eventually house about 20 recyclers, providing up to 750 jobs. Despite that, Mr Yau said the number of people engaged in environmental industries - now at 40,000 - still represented only a tiny portion of the 3.6 million workforce. 'There is still room for more environmental industries and job creation,' he said. Mr Yau was also keen to urge the legislators to promote more green procurement and greater recycling efforts in their own geographical constituencies.