The Environmental Protection Department will provide financial support to local recyclers to meet the requirements set by Beijing after a ban on imports of some highly polluting waste takes effect, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The government’s Advisory Committee on Recycling Fund, which was launched in 2015, will set aside HK$20 million to help recyclers cope with a possible fall in business as a result of the ban, the department said.
The State Council announced in July that China will stop importing 24 types of waste by the end of the year, including waste plastic and unsorted scrap paper, as part of an effort to reject “foreign garbage”.
China is the largest destination for Hong Kong’s recycled waste. The ban is expected to deal a big blow to its recycling industry.
Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah, who chairs the committee, said the money will be used to provide funding for recyclers to buy five types of equipment so that they can process recycled waste properly before exporting it to the mainland.
These include machines that can turn waste plastic into clean pellets that comply with the mainland’s new rules.
Under the plan, each recycler can file as many as three applications to buy such equipment. The maximum amount for each application is set at HK$1 million.
Kwok said only 300 metric tons of waste plastic are recycled out of more than 2,000 metric tons of waste plastic currently produced daily in Hong Kong.
He said the new measure will enable recyclers to export the recyclables. Otherwise, more of the waste could end up in landfills in the future.
The department said it will study multiple measures to help the recycling industry, including collecting waste plastic bottles in one location and sending them to recyclers for processing, as well as introducing a producer responsibility program.
Industry groups and environmental advocates welcomed the move but said it does not go far enough.
Jacky Lau Yiu-shing, director of the Hong Kong Recycled Materials and Re-production Business General Association, said the government should encourage shops to collect waste plastic and take it to green stations in each of the 18 districts.
A person who operates a recycling plant in Yuen Long told Apple Daily that he is considering closing his business as tighter waste policy in the mainland has caused it to accumulate about 100 to 150 metric tons of waste plastic.
He is discussing with the Environmental Protection Department about sending the accumulated waste plastic to landfills.
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