The daily amount of waste produced in Hong Kong per capita is at its highest since 1998, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Department.
A report released by the department on Thursday shows that Hong Kong landfills received municipal solid waste at a rate of 1.45kg per capita every day in 2017, compared to 1.41kg per capita per day in 2016. Municipal solid waste consists of domestic, commercial and industrial waste.
The figures fall short of the goal set in 2013 , when Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing promised to reduce daily waste disposal amounts from 1.27kg per capita in 2011 to 1kg per capita in 2017.
The average daily quantity of solid waste disposed of at landfills was 15,516 tonnes in 2017, marking an increase of 1.2 per cent compared to 2016.
The report attributed the rise to increased commercial and industrial waste generated last year, while domestic waste disposal dropped by 1.9 per cent compared to 2016.
Meanwhile, only 32 per cent of solid waste was recovered in 2017 – the lowest since 1999. The recycling rates were 34 per cent and 35 per cent in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
But glass bottle recycling saw an increase of 18.4 per cent from 2016, owing to efforts by the government to promote the recovery of waste glass.
The department said recycling rates are dictated by market conditions outside of Hong Kong, since the city relies heavily on the service sector and has limited capacity to utilise recycled materials locally. In addition, stricter import controls imposed by nearby jurisdictions have affected the overall performance of the recycling industry, the report said.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Department said the government will focus on implementing a charging scheme for solid waste, which would “drive behavioural and cultural changes” and eventually lead to overall waste reduction.
A similar charging scheme led to around a 30 per cent drop in waste disposal in Seoul and Taipei, the spokesperson added.
After Thursday’s figures were released, local green group Green Earth called on the government to implement the charging scheme as soon as possible, as well as impose measures to improve recycling and composting systems.
Last month, the Hong Kong government tabled a bill to the Legislative Council proposing to impose waste disposal fees.