Recycling : the way towards sustainable waste management for Hong Kong?
Recycling: The Way towards Sustainable Waste Management for Hong Kong?
for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science at the University of Hong Kong
in April 2001
The rapid economic development and population growth in the twentieth
century brought not only fortune and a better standard of living but also an unwelcome
by-product - a waste avalanche. In 1998, despite the economic downturn, Hong Kong
continued to produce a huge quantity of wastes thus risking that the existing mega-sized
landfills will be filled up faster than expected. Given Hong Kong's small area and high
population, sparing land areas for new landfills seems, if not impossible, extremely
difficult. There is an urgency to look for other outlets and solutions to its waste problems.
Since the emergence of the concept of sustainable development, it has become the focus
of the world's development regime in the twenty-first century. This study begins by
establishing conceptually and practically the applicability of the concept of sustainable
development in the context of waste management. Set against this, a "sustainable waste
management regime" is established as the analytical framework for this project. A case study approach using Japan and the Netherlands as examples is used as a supplementary tool. This project targets to evaluate the development of the waste management and waste recycling policies in Hong Kong in the light of waste management sustainability. The question posed is: Is recycling the way to move ong Kong towards a "sustainable waste management regime"?
Waste recycling evolves as the secon option in the waste management priority areas in Agenda 21. From an environmental )rotection point of view, it helps to conserve natural resources, reduce wastes required fi al disposal and extend the lifespan of the existing landfills. Moreover, in social terms, it creates job opportunities for the unskilled. Economically speaking, it reduces gove ent expenditure on waste treatment. Waste recycling provides a sense of environmental, s cial and economical sustainability. It is of the writer's view that waste recycling is t e cornerstone in the pursuit of a "sustainable waste management regime" for Hong ong. However, because of the complexity of the waste problems, there is no single a proach which is able to provide an effective and long term solution. It is more sensible t tackle the waste problems through an integrated approach which includes waste mini ization as the top priority, waste recovery and recycling as the second priority methods, waste-to-energy recovery as the third one and disposal as the least desirable one.
From the government's first pIece of statutory waste management legislation - Waste Disposal Ordinance (1980) to the Waste Reduction Framework Plan (1998) to the recently proposed "Seven Major Initiati es" (2001), the focus of the waste
management policy in Hong Kong changed from final disposal to waste minimization and recycling. With waste minimization and recycling as the major focus now, Hong Kong is heading towards a "sustainable waste management regime". However, the Hong Kong government continues with its laissez-faire attitude towards the waste recycling industry, refusing to provide direct subsidies to the industry whereas many other countries, like Japan and the Netherlands, do provide assistance to their recycling industry. Together with many other difficulties, the recycling industry in Hong Kong faces a very difficult situation that risks its survival. In the pursuit of a "sustainable waste management regime", the Hong Kong government has to provide some help to the industry. Furthermore, more efforts have to be placed on the legislative, institutional and educational level. Yet, not just the government of Hong Kong but every individual has to work harder on waste minimization and recycling and also on environmental protection. Laissez- faire is not an option.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:refuse and disposal china hong kong recycling waste etc sustainable development
Date of Publication:01/01/2002