Hong Kong has always had a high level of construction activity. While this is a sign of prosperity, the waste generated by the construction industry has always been a problem. Here you can learn more about construction waste, how it is treated, the Government's waste management strategy, the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme and what you can do to reduce waste production.
What is Construction Waste?
Construction waste is anything generated as a result of construction and then abandoned, regardless of whether it has been processed or stockpiled. It comprises surplus materials from site clearance, excavation, construction, refurbishment, renovation, demolition and road works. There are two types of construction waste:
- Inert construction waste
- Non-inert construction waste
Non-inert construction waste is around 20% of the total and usually comprises bamboo, timber, vegetation, packaging waste and other organic materials. Some of these can be recycled while others are disposed of at landfills. In contrast, inert waste - otherwise known as public fill - mainly includes construction debris, rubble, earth, bitumen and concrete, which can be used for land formation. Materials like concrete and asphalt can also be recovered for construction use.More on construction waste
Construction Waste Treatment
The major approach to managing construction waste in Hong Kong is the use of public filling areas for reusable inert construction waste and landfills for non-inert construction waste. The public fill banks temporarily stockpile the inert construction waste for later reuse in reclamation and site formation works. However, after completion of the South East New Territories and North East New Territories Landfill extension projects, we estimated that the total capacity of the two landfills can cope with the ultimate waste disposal need of Hong Kong until mid or late 2020s. For the estimated capacity of the West New Territories Landfill extension project, it can only be assessed after completion of the consultancy study. In view of this, the current approach to manage the construction waste cannot be unchanged. That is also why the Government has set a high priority on waste reduction strategies.More on public fill facilitiesLocations of waste disposal sites
Management Strategy for Construction Waste
When determining management strategies for construction waste, the Government's objectives are to:
- Reduce waste generation.
- Maximise reusing and recycling.
- Reduce the intake of mixed construction waste at landfills.
The overall strategy involves the maintenance of a well-managed public filling programme with sufficient facilities and access. But given the high level of waste generation, the emphasis is also being placed on producers. This involves the Government encouraging the industry to:
- Sort mixed construction waste and not just dispose of it in a single place.
- Reuse and recycle as far as possible.
- Design better and construct more efficiently to minimise waste.
Charging for Construction Waste Disposal
Under the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme, construction waste producers are required to open a billing account with the Environmental Protection Department before using waste disposal facilities and pay the appropriate charges for disposal of their construction waste. Construction waste producers under the scheme are typically:
- Construction contractors
- Renovation contractors
- Home owners
Application forms and information on eligibility and fees are available on the Environmental Protection Department's website.More on the Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme
What You Can Do
There are a number of ways in which you can help to solve the problem of construction waste. Most of this waste is generated because people are not aware of proper waste management, or even that they should produce less waste. Construction companies can reduce waste through:
- More careful purchasing and design, including the use of more advanced and less wasteful technologies.
- Managing raw materials more effectively.
- Providing education and training to their workforces.
When renovating your own home, it is important to:
- Work with your renovation contractor to minimise generation of construction waste.
- Record how much waste you are producing, so you can appreciate the problem and the cost of waste disposal.
- Separate inert and non-inert materials for recycling/disposal as appropriate.
- Give your renovation contractor clear instructions on the separation and removal of construction waste.
- Arrange with recyclers for the collection of recyclable waste.
You should also remember to ensure that waste is disposed of legally, so we can all benefit from a clean environment.More on what you can do at homeList of recyclersWaste reduction guidelines for construction companies