According to government statistics last published in 2020, an average of 10,809 tonnes of municipal solid waste (from household, commercial and industrial sources) is dumped into Hong Kong landfills each day. Food waste still accounts for the largest proportion at 30%, with waste paper (24%) and waste plastics (21%) following closely behind. In an attempt to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) going into the ground, the Environmental Bureau announced the “Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035” in 2021 which built on the “Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022” published in 2013. The Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035 outlines the waste management strategies up to 2035 with the medium-term goal to reduce the per capita MSW disposal rate by 40-45% and increase the recovery rate (MSW recovered for recycling) to around 55%. And the long-term goal to move away from landfills altogether (aka Zero Landfill) by developing more effective waste-to-energy facilities. The medium-term goal will be largely achieved through implementing Municipal Solid Waste Charging and promoting the idea of waste reduction and waste separation.
To this end, in August 2021, the government passed The Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Ordinance which is expected to become effective in 2023. This new ordinance will see each household pay around HK$31-51 per month to have waste removed which must be separated into designated bags or labelled with designated labels. In effect, less MSW disposed of means paying less under the principal that the first step in reducing waste is to start at the source where waste can be minimized, separated and recycled.
In this blog, we will look particularly at how to reduce the greatest proportion of MSW – food waste – to save money and help reduce landfill use.
Food waste not only increases pressure on landfills by taking up so much space but it can also contaminate the environment. It often contains a great deal of water which promotes rotting, leading to foul odours and germs.
Burning food waste is also not a good option as it takes a large amount of energy to combust and releases carbon itself which adds to global warming. The only real way to reduce food waste in MSW is to minimize it at source. But how?
The government has launched a pilot scheme of household food waste recycling in a bid to reduce household food waste that ends up in landfills by promoting good practices on food waste management and getting people use to separating their leftover food from other MSW. The separated food waste is then collected and recycled at food waste treatment facilities (rather than landfills) which can compost the food or, in the case of 0-PARK1, which is Hong Kong’s first organic resources recovery centre, use anaerobic digestion technology to convert food waste into biogas (a source of renewable energy similar to natural gas) for electricity generation, with any residue from the process again composted for landscaping and agriculture use.
To make the management of household food waste easier, companies such as GF Technovation have deployed smart food waste recycling bins in residential areas. GF Technovation’s Smart Food Waste Recycling Bin, for instance, includes fill-level detection with real-time IoT monitoring helping to optimize waste collection schedules, auto-deodorization and sterilization to maintain a hygienic environment, and user ID recognition with auto-weighing and recording – particularly useful for any building management to keep track of tenants’ disposal levels.
As Hong Kong’s government continues to look for ways to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, innovations such as GF Technovation’s Smart Food Waste Recycling Bin will undoubtedly help to achieve this goal. To learn more about GF Technovation and its Smart Food Waste Recycling Bin, click here.