Budget Address 2021: Initiative to achieve carbon neutrality and funding for recycling welcomed by NGO
The Hong Kong government will allocate additional funding for green projects in the new budget proposal announced this morning to help the city meet its carbon neutrality target by 2050.
A billion dollars has been injected into funding more than 80 projects that aim to install small-scale renewable energy systems, like solar panels and solar water heaters at government buildings.
The Recycling Fund will also receive $1 billion for individual local recycling enterprises aimed to enhance and expand their recycling operations in Hong Kong and non-profit-distributing organisations to undertake non-profit making projects.
The city has been widely criticized for its lack of effort in recycling and waste management.
“The fund is very important to help local traditional recycling companies to transform into a more workable and sustainable model,” said Lo Kiu-fung, the Project Manager of Designing Hong Kong, a local environmental NGO.
NGOs can also benefit from $150 million, a separate fund set aside so the government can help install energy-saving appliances and conduct energy audits for free.
The scheme is expected to benefit more than a thousand businesses, said Mr Chan.
“The application period for recycling funds will be extended to 2027 so as to render continuous support to the trade, particularly the SMEs, in enhancing its operational capabilities and efficiency as well as coping with the latest needs of both the local and non-local markets,” said Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po.
Mr. Lo describes the city's waste disposal situation as very urgent. “We are behind a lot of Asian cities, and people are producing more and more waste,” he said.
Hong Kong's major environmental concern is air pollution and waste management, according to the Environmental Protection Department. The city is facing a landfill shortage.
The total amount of solid waste disposed of in Hong Kong's landfills in 2019 was 5.71 million tons, with per capita municipal solid waste disposal 1.47 kg per day, 83.6% higher than the target goal 0.8 kg per day per capita, according to Hong Kong Resource Cycle Blueprint 2013-2022.
Municipal solid waste is either recycled or transported to landfills. However, only 40% of the waste is recycled, of which only 8% is plastic. In 2019, more than 2800 tons of waste plastic were dumped into landfills
The government is making efforts to deal with plastic waste by implementing the Producer Responsibility Scheme, which is based on the idea that the creators of pollutants should be in charge of it.
The scheme requires manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and consumers to share the responsibility of recycling the plastic waste they create. The government launched a 3-month public consultation on the scheme this Monday.
Although Mr Lo is satisfied with the government's funding and effort to improve the city's environmental issues, he reminds the government to “set up more recycling stations so as to make recycling more convenient and become a habit of the public.”
《The Young Reporter》
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