Green group urges wood recycling from trees felled by Mangkhut

September 26, 2018 16:35
Hong Kong’s handling of post-typhoon tree waste will worsen the city’s landfills problem, says Roy Tam of environmental group Green Sense. Photos: Green Sense, HKEJ

The government should set up recycling zones to handle wood from the trees that were brought down by Typhoon Mangkhut, an environmental group said on Tuesday, arguing that the fallen trees that are being chopped up must be put to use as much as possible, rather than allow the material to get dumped as waste in landfill sites.

At a press conference, Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong, who is also a member of the Tsuen Wan District Council, criticized the government over the manner in which it is dealing with the large amount of fallen trees and branches.

Attention is not being paid to the issue of utilization of the wood waste, Tam said, noting that there haven't been efforts to sort the chopped up tree trunks and branches to determine which can be put to use for recycling.  

The comments came amid growing concerns over felled-tree wastage following the Sept. 16 super typhoon, with authorities accused of simply allowing the material to get dumped as waste rather than trying to salvage something for reuse. 

As a post-Mangkhut measure to improve the waiting time of waste collection vehicles at various refuse transfer stations, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department had jointly decided to turn two land parcels in the Kai Tak Development Area into a temporary wood waste collection area.

The facility was opened on Sept. 21 and will stay in place until 6 pm on Sept. 30. 

Following the move, nearly a thousand truckloads of wood waste was brought into the facility as of 5 pm Monday. One of the land parcels -- a site measuring about one hectare -- is said to be already full.

Tam said the situation suggests the collection area in Kai Tak will likely reach its capacity limits in a few days since there are still a large number of falling trees waiting to be cleared.

The environmentalist said he fears that most of the tree trunks and branches will be shipped to landfills.

As such, Tam urged the government to set up two to three large regeneration sites for trees and branches in areas far away from residential areas so that waste wood can return to the soil as they decompose.

He noted that the ground in the collection areas, covered by concrete, does not help such waste decompose.

Tam, meanwhile, also said efforts should be made to sort out discarded trees that are still of good quality and keep them for future so as to reduce shipping of waste wood to the landfills, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Dr. Alvin Tang Ming-chak, course coordinator and lecturer of the tree management program at the College of International Education of the Hong Kong Baptist University, pointed out that trees piled in the collection areas will become rotten in about a month and therefore need to be treated as soon as possible.

According to Tang, some of the wood is suitable to be recycled and turned into art pieces or furniture.

The EPD claimed that it will take out a portion of the stockpiled materials suitable for processing and ship them to the Animal Waste Composting Plant in Ngau Tam Mei in Yuen Long, where they will be become fertilizer for plants, as well as have some material used by the Organic Resource Recycling Centre Phase I in Siu Ho Wan.

In addition, the EPD said it welcomes members of the public or groups that are interested in collecting wood or leaves to register with it by calling the hotlines at 3741 1823 and 3741 1822.

According to the department, about 60 people or groups had already outlined their interest as of Monday.

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