Hong Kong Christian Service

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Issue 005
2015 Jan

Rethink about incineration and landfilling

Our 3 landfills are expected to reach its maximum capacity after 5 years. There is pressing need to deal with fact that our city is being surrounded by waste, the Environmental Bureau published “Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022” in 2013 put forward the future plan to deal with waste. Among them, the major measure is landfill extensions and building of the integrated waste management facility, making up to $30 billions. In order to gain public support, the government produced 4 publicity videos (1)about the consultation. However, sectors of the public rejected this as “the last resort” to tackle waste treatment, the government, on the other hand, should commit to waste reduction at source and recycling.

Yet this article is not about whether the government should or when to implement landfills or incineration, instead, we would like to point out the message behind the impact of our lifestyle and those 4 publicity videos.

Equal treatment of commercial and industrial waste

It is undeniable that the general public has a major role to play in the waste treatment as mentioned in the videos. However, according to 2012 data from the Environment Protection Department, landfills received 13,844 tons of waste, while commercial and industrial waste took up about 46.5%, “domestic waste” took up 45.4%. And according the Department, “domestic waste” includes household waste and also waste generated from daily activities from public facilities and public hygiene service (such as schools, government offices, markets, roads and waste from the sea)(2). Therefore, “domestic waste” should be less than that 45.4%, in this case, it is partial to link the target, aims and objectives and this waste reduction issue to an individual’s lifestyle. We hope that while emphasising reduction and recycling in community education and publicity, the government can also put the same weight on industrial, commercial and construction waste.

An environmental-friendly lifestyle

Hong Kong’s daily per capita domestic waste generation rate is 2 to 2.5 times(3) of Japan, Korea and Taiwan; 1.7 times of OECD(4). Such a high rate goes beyond an individual’s concern, it becomes that of a community and lifestyle issue. Why we create so many wastes? Is it because we lead a consumption-oriented style or excessive spending? These are what we need to study.

If we believe a change in an individual’s way of spending and day-to-day activities to one that emphasises more on waste reduction and recycle could cultivate a similar atmosphere in the community, then we should begin with this in order that everyone can fulfil his civic responsibility; eventually, waste separation, food waste reduction, these can reduce the waste to an acceptable level.

While we appreciate that waste treatment is a complicated issue, we hope the government can work with different stakeholders to work out an effective device.

1. Three landfills and one incinerator video series
2. Environmental Protection Department: "Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong 2012"
3. http://www.scmp.com/article/989943/lets-talk-trash
4. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/environment-at-a-glance-2013_9789264185715-en

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