So­lu­tion of waste dis­posal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HKCOMMENT -

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.

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