An environmentalist said on Thursday that Hong Kong cannot continue to rely on its landfill sites to handle waste after the government confirmed it was studying the building of a second incinerator in the SAR.
William Yu, CEO of the World Green Organisation, made the comment after the administration confirmed on Wednesday that it would launch a new round of studies into the building of a waste incinerator at Tsang Tsui, in Tuen Mun, in addition to a facility on the island of Shek Kwu Chau that is to come online in 2025.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme, Yu said the government should proceed with a public consultation once the environmental studies are completed, as a proposal to charge households according to the quantity of waste they throw away will not be enough.
"Unfortunately, our waste amount per capita, compared to other cities, is quite high," he told RTHK's Samantha Butler. "And when you look at the experience when the waste charging scheme has been launched in other cities, a significant reduction in the waste amount, that would be good.
"But I think, at the same time, it takes time to build a recycling habit. So we still need some modern scientific facilities" to dispose of waste, he added.
Yu said that once the facility was completed, air monitoring should take place to ensure there is no harm to the local environment.
In its announcement on Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Department said further waste-to-energy facilities were needed to meet the SAR's environmental goals, pointing out the decomposition of waste in landfills had become Hong Kong's third biggest source of greenhouse gases.
It said the first facility near Shek Kwu Chau will have an air pollution control system with standards more stringent than those set by the European Union, and will have a capacity of 3,000 tonnes per day. The proposed Tsang Tsui incinerator would handle 4,000 tonnes per day.
But Hong Kong sends 11,000 tonnes of waste to landfills per day, and officials say they will launch a "comprehensive territory-wide site" for further incineration projects.
The administration is targetting moving away from using landfills for waste disposal by around 2035 and carbon neutrality in waste management by 2025.