LEGCO QUESTIONS

Reduction and recycling of food waste

07 Dec 2016
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Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council on 7 December, 2016:

Question:

A Food Waste and Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022 (Food Waste Plan), published by the Environment Bureau (ENB) in February 2014, sets out a target of reducing food waste disposal at landfills by 40 per cent by 2022 (using 2011 as the base year), a proposal of establishing five to six Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTFs) between 2014 and 2024 in phases, as well as the implementation of a Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign. On the other hand, in his report published in October last year on the work of the ENB and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) in respect of the reduction and recycling of food waste (the Report), the Director of Audit pointed out that the commissioning of OWTF Phase 1, originally scheduled for 2013, had been postponed by at least four years, resulting in the authorities not being able to reduce food waste disposal at landfills. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the quantity of food waste disposed of at landfills in each year from January 2014 to November 2016;

(2) of the latest works progress and the expected commissioning date of OWTF Phase 1; regarding OWTF Phases 2 and 3, their respective (i) latest planning progress, (ii) timetables for tender invitations, and (iii) commissioning dates;

(3) as the Report has pointed out that the EPD advised in 2010 that 43 per cent of the food waste to be treated in OWTF Phase 1 would be collected from the 25 wet markets managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the remaining 57 per cent would come from commercial and industrial (C&I) establishments, but the FEHD advised in 2011 that only food waste from five wet markets would be delivered to this OWTF, of the latest plan on food waste collection for this OWTF and how the authorities will ensure this OWTF, upon commissioning, will receive an adequate quantity of food waste for treatment; the logistic arrangements for collecting food waste from C&I establishments and delivering the food waste to this OWTF, as well as the C&I establishments which have already indicated their wish to participate and those which are considering participation in, the food waste recycling programme;

(4) since the two-year “Food Waste Recycling Projects in Housing Estates” was launched in 2011, of (i) the implementation date, (ii) the completion date/progress, (iii) the household participation rate and (iv) the average daily quantity of food waste collected, in respect of each participating project (set out in a table by the name of the private housing estate); whether plans are in place to encourage more private housing estates and households to participate in such projects; and

(5) of the effectiveness of the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign since its launch, including its contribution to reaching the target of reducing 360 tonnes of food waste per day, as set out in the 2014 Food Waste Plan?

Reply:

President,

Our reply to the Hon Leung’s question is as follows:

One of the most imminent environmental challenges faced by Hong Kong is waste management. As food waste accounts for over 30 per cent of the municipal solid waste (MSW) disposed of at landfills, reducing food waste disposal is critical to achieving our overall waste reduction target. To this end, the Environment Bureau (ENB) published in 2014 “A Food Waste and Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022” (Food Waste Plan) that maps out four strategies, namely reduction at source, reuse and donation, recyclable collection, and turning food waste into energy, with a view to reducing food waste disposal to landfills by 40 per cent in 2022.

(1) According to the latest statistics, the overall food waste disposal at landfills in 2015 was 3 382 tonnes per day (tpd), showing a drop of 7.1 per cent as compared to that in 2014. Excluding factors such as population growth, the food waste disposal per capita was 0.46 kg/person/day in 2015, 7.9 per cent less than that in 2014. Statistics of food waste disposal in 2014 and 2015 are tabulated below:

Year 2014 2015
(Change in percentage as compared to 2014)
Overall municipal food waste disposal (tpd) 3 640 3 382
(-7.1%)
Overall municipal food waste disposal per capita (kg per day) 0.50 0.46
(-7.9%)

Note 1: Figures in brackets refer to year-on-year changes in percentage.
Note 2: Relevant statistics for 2016 are still under compilation.
Note 3: Percentage change is calculated based on exact amount of food waste disposal before rounding off.

(2) We have estimated in the Food Waste Plan that Hong Kong needs to build around five to six Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTFs) in the long term to process about 1 300 to 1 500 tonnes of recyclable food waste per day. The first phase of OWTF (OWTF1) situated at Siu Ho Wan of North Lantau has a maximum treatment capacity of 200 tpd. It is currently under construction and is scheduled for testing and commissioning in the second quarter of 2017 and full commissioning by the end of 2017. The second phase of OWTF (OWTF2) situated at Sha Ling of the North District has a maximum treatment capacity of 300 tpd. It is scheduled for commissioning in 2021 and tendering for the project will commence shortly. The Government has also earmarked a site in Shek Kong for the development of the third phase of OWTF (OWTF3) with a maximum treatment capacity of 300 tpd. We will take forward the necessary environmental impact assessment and engineering feasibility study in 2017, and will continue to work with relevant departments on the search for suitable sites for other OWTFs.

(3) Under the Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme launched in 2010, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has been promoting source separation, collection and recycling of food waste in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors.  We have also assisted in the training of managerial and front line staff of participating organisations to help them establish good food waste management practices and get prepared for collection and recycling of food waste at a larger scale in future.

Also, we have been liaising proactively with the major C&I stakeholders and potential food waste collectors to work out a viable protocol of rules and practices on separating, collecting and transporting food waste to OWTFs for onward recycling. We have received positive feedback from some major C&I stakeholders. Arrangements are being made to deliver food waste from about 100 C&I establishments, including shopping malls, hotels and wet markets, to OWTF1 upon its commissioning. We will continue to work with more C&I stakeholders on the collection and delivery of their source-separated food waste with a view to gradually achieving the maximum design capacity of OWTF1.

Currently, we are exploring ways with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Housing Department (HD) to separate at source, collect and deliver to the OWTF1 the food waste generated from those C&I establishments, including markets, cooked food centres and shopping malls, under the management of the FEHD and Housing Authority/the HD.

(4) We rolled out the Funding Scheme for Food Waste Recycling in Housing Estates (Funding Scheme) in July 2011 to subsidise installation of on-site food waste treatment facilities and organisation of relevant education and promotion activities at private housing estates through the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), with a view to engaging residents’ active participation and raising their awareness of food waste reduction and recycling. Each project is subsidised for two years. As at November 2016, funds have been granted to 30 housing estates by the ECF. Please see the Annex for details.

About 3 400 households have registered and participated in the above projects while on average some 50 per cent registered households treat their food waste with the on-site food waste treatment facilities in their housing estates every day. In addition, relevant education and promotion activities of the above projects can help disseminate the waste reduction message to a total of 63 000 households in the above housing estates.

The EPD has set up a help-desk service for the above Funding Scheme to provide technical support for interested housing estates. Seminars have also been organised to allow the participating housing estates to share their valuable experience. We will encourage more interested housing estates to apply for the Funding Scheme, and will continue to promote it to suitable housing estates and property management companies.

(5) Since the launch of the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign (Campaign) in May 2013, the Campaign has promoted food wise and waste less culture and encouraged behavioural changes to reduce food waste in the community through various schemes and activities. The “Big Waster” symbolising food wastage in the Campaign has taken root in the community and gradually become a widely accepted icon of waste reduction and energy saving/efficiency. The Campaign was awarded the Excellence Award at the HKMA/TVB Awards for Marketing Excellence 2014 on October 24, 2014 in recognition of its effectiveness and positive impact on the community as well as its success in promoting a “food wise” culture in Hong Kong.  It is the first promotional campaign run by the Government receiving such award.

As revealed in the latest statistics mentioned in part (1) of the reply, both the overall food waste disposal at landfills and the food waste disposal per capita dropped in 2015 as compared to those in 2014. In particular, the drop in domestic food waste disposal (-8.1 per cent) was more notable than that in the C&I sectors (-4.6 per cent). This reflects that members of the public have gradually changed their behaviours and habits to reduce food waste amid of economic growth and social development. With the efforts made by various sectors of the community, we believe that the Campaign will continue to yield positive results and help achieve the target of reducing the amount of food waste disposal by 40 per cent in 2022 under the Food Waste Plan.