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Technical Meeting on Construction Waste Charging Scheme

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By Miss Shirley LEUNG 
Though Hong Kong has recovered from the economic crisis, it is now facing another crucial challenge - the depletion of landfill space within 6 to 10 years. Following the implementation of waste management plan, trip-ticket system and "Pay for Safety and Environment Scheme" the government takes a further step and introduces the construction waste disposal charging scheme that has come into operation since 20 January 2006. Against this backdrop, the CV Division invited Mr Tom Lai, Senior Environmental Protection Officer of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), and Mr Winston Fong, Senior Engineer of the Civil Engineering and Development Department, to explain the waste problem in Hong Kong and to elaborate on the detailed arrangement of the scheme in the technical meeting held on 10 January 2006.

Local construction activities generate huge volume of construction and demolition (C&D) materials. In 2004, the volume generated reached 20.5 million tonnes (equivalent to filling up the Happy Valley Racecourse to a height of 27 storeys). To slow down the depletion of valuable landfill space, the scheme applies "Polluter Pay Principle" which requires waste producers to pay for the disposal of construction waste at HK$27 per tonne at public fill reception facilities, HK$100 per tonne at sorting facilities, and HK$125 per tonne at both landfills and outlying island refuse transfer facilities. Main contractors undertaking the construction work have to apply for a billing account for making a deposit to get "chits" for waste disposal and settling the monthly bills. The contractors of works contracts awarded or tender of which closed before 1 December 2005 are eligible for exemption from charges and can apply for an exemption account instead. 

Since the unloading of construction waste at a designated waste disposal facility is allowed only if the waste meets the acceptance criteria of that facility, it is important to have a clear understanding of the definition of construction waste and the acceptance criteria of each waste disposal facility. For example, if any marine mud, plastic, household refuses and plants are present in the waste, the disposal as public fill will be rejected. 

The scheme effectively provides an economic incentive to developers and contractors to reduce disposal of C&D materials through recycling and sorting. It may be a small step for our solid waste management, but it would be one giant leap for the betterment of our environment. 

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