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Staff working at the Hong Kong government's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment facility in Tuen Mun. Photo: Edward Wong

No need to export e-waste when Hong Kong recycling plant hits full capacity, officials say

But only 6,000 tonnes of electronic waste will be processed this year, though the facility is set up to reach 30,000 tonnes annually or double that if it extends operating hours

Hong Kong would no longer need to dump its electronic waste in Southeast Asia and Africa when the city’s new recycling facility runs at full capacity, local environmental authorities said.

It is designed to process 30,000 tonnes of e-waste per year, with the number hitting 57,000 tonnes if the facility extends its operating hours, Dr Alain Lam Kwok-lun of the Environmental Protection Department said.

The three hectare (7.4 acres) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment facility in Eco Park, Tuen Mun, measures six football pitches in area and has operated two recycling lines since last October.

The facility could process 57,000 tonnes of e-waste by extending its operating hours. Photo: Edward Wong

On Monday, it added two more lines and formally launched the facility, with the city’s chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other senior environment officials in attendance.

Environment chief Wong Kam-sing said the facility would only handle 6,000 tonnes of waste this year, though the plant’s operator, Alba Integrated Waste Solutions (Hong Kong) said it aimed to hit 9,000 tonnes.

“And we plan to reach 30,000 tonnes [annually] in the next three years, as in the contract, or we will be punished,” Alba director and general manager Nigel Mattravers said.

About 70,000 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment waste are disposed annually in Hong Kong, of which 85 per cent is regulated e-waste, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, monitors and computers.

We plan to recycle 30,000 tonnes of electronic waste a year
Nigel Mattravers, Alba

About 80 per cent of the city’s e-waste is shipped abroad, such as to Africa and Southeast Asia, while the rest is handled locally and dumped in landfills.

Mattravers echoed Lam’s claim that longer operating hours would help the plant process “57,000 tonnes a year” of e-waste. The firm has 150 employees.

In January, it processed 357,849 kilograms of e-waste, of which 46 per cent was washing machines and 32 per cent televisions. From this amount, it recycled around 214,000 kilograms of rescuable materials including iron, aluminium, copper and plastics.

Some home appliances can be refurbished and donated to families in need. Photo: Edward Wong

Mattavers said the firm refurbished home appliances if they were in good condition and donated them to families in need, collaborating with charities such as Crossroads Foundation and Christian Action.

Carrie Lam said at the ceremony that the facility is a milestone for transforming waste into usable materials in Hong Kong and it signifies the city’s determination to recycle resources.

From August 1 onwards, those in Hong Kong who supply air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and monitors must have in place a free removal service for customers. Their service must be approved by the Environmental Protection Department.

City residents can call the Alba hotline at +852 2676 8888, for free pickup of their electronic appliances. The company vows to pick up within three days, Mattravers said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: New recycling plant will end need to export e-waste