Policies to Reduce and Recycle Glass Bottles

Following is a question by Hon Chan Kin-por and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (October 21):

Question:

Information from the Environmental Protection Department indicates that the glass waste discarded of at landfills in Hong Kong exceeded 130,000 tonnes in 2007, and the amount is on the rise.  Some environmental groups have pointed out that the authorities do not support the glass container recycling programmes initiated by the community, as they think that recycled glass is of limited use and low value.  At present, the recovery rate of glass containers is extremely low.  The majority of glass containers discarded by the public had to be disposed of by landfilling, taking up much of the dwindling landfill space.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) the Government has plans to formulate a glass waste recycling policy; if it has not, of the reasons;

(b) the Government will consider implementing policies (e.g. producer responsibility scheme on glass containers) to reduce the use of glass containers;

(c) the Government will promote the use of eco-blocks made from glass containers and construction waste in order to increase the recovery of glass containers; and

(d) the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of the glass container recycling programme for the hotel sector, which has been implemented for almost one year; if they have, of the results; and whether they will further promote the programme?

Reply:

President,

(a) The Government has been encouraging different sectors to participate in waste separation and recovery in order to reduce waste and to promote resources recovery.

In December 2005, the Administration published “A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005 – 2014)” (Policy Framework) which sets out the waste management strategy for the next ten years, encompassing initiatives on waste avoidance and reduction at source, waste recovery and recycling, and bulk reduction of waste.  Implementing producer responsibility schemes (PRS’s) through legislative means is one of the initiatives to encourage manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to share the eco-responsibility of reducing, recovering and recycling certain products so as to minimise the environmental impact.  With the implementation of the Environmental Levy on Plastic Shopping Bags in mid-2009, the Administration is preparing for another PRS focusing on waste electrical and electronic equipment.  The scheme is scheduled for public consultation by the end of this year.  Following this, the Administration will study the introduction of PRS for other products including beverage containers;

(b) Apart from implementing and promoting waste reduction, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) collaborated with the Hong Kong Hotels Association (HKHA) to launch a voluntary Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector in November last year to promote the recycling of waste glass.

Eleven hotels participated in the first year of the programme.  The operating costs are shared among the participating hotels while the HKHA undertakes the administrative management and the EPD provides technical support to the programme;

(c) To develop local recycling outlets for waste glass, the EPD funded a trial by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to crush waste glass containers into particles to substitute natural river sand for the production of paving blocks.

On this basis, a local paving block manufacturing facility is accepting some of the waste glass generated in Hong Kong for recycling.  The products have been used in suitable public works projects under a number of Government departments (including the Housing Department, the EPD and the Highways Department), as well as in the works projects by major tertiary education institutes.  The relevant Departments will keep in view the performance of these paving blocks.  Subject to satisfactory performance, and reasonable supply and price level, the relevant works departments would consider wider use of these paving blocks in other public works projects; and

(d) In the first six months of the Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector, about 210 tonnes of glass containers were recovered for delivery to a local recycler and were crushed into glass sand for the production of paving blocks.

The EPD is liaising with the HKHA and the participating hotels on the programme arrangement for the coming year. We have also invited participation from other hotels.  Apart from the hotels that participate in the above programme, some other hotels and large catering service providers have also launched recovery programme on glass containers individually.  The EPD will further explore the feasibility to extend the recovery of glass containers to more hotels and other sectors.

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