Solution of waste disposal
The plans to expand existing landfills have run into fierce opposition from local communities ultimately because landfills generate an unbearable stench and pollute the surrounding environment beyond cure. The SAR government must review the whole process of waste disposal from beginning to end, including the generation, sorting, transportation, recycling and incineration of waste. An advanced, systematic and comprehensive solution should then be custom-made and applied with a set of policies and adequate resources to effectively resolve the waste disposal problem completely.
Hong Kong produces on average 13,000 tons of waste everyday and leads the world in per capita waste generation. If we continue to dispose of so much waste by the outdated means of landfills, we can only delay, but not avoid, the inevitable crisis of overflowing landfills, which will not only annoy even more people with foul smells but also pollute the underground water as well as the surface environment on a larger scale. Given the limited land resources left in Hong Kong there is not a worse way for waste disposal than building more or expanding existing landfills.
As success stories of some developed countries testify, systematic implementation of waste sorting and recycling is the best way to reduce absolute waste and generate profits from the process. The first step in this process is separating kitchen throwaways from the rest of daily waste. Kitchen throwaways account for 60 percent of all household waste Hong Kong generates every day, and are the main source of foul smells wherever they are. It’s a great shame for Hong Kong that only 0.6 percent of kitchen waste is recycled, which also keeps the recycle rate of total household waste at a disappointing 40 percent. Once kitchen waste is handled separately the overall recycle rate will rise to 80 percent at least.
A comprehensive waste recycling and disposal industry is the only viable way to prevent Hong Kong from being buried under its own waste. Although it will cost astronomical amounts to build and operate, we can only figure out a way to share the financial burden, because we cannot afford to do nothing. This an excerpted translation of a Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorial published on Aug 13.