Q2 Promoting a post-epidemic green recovery of the economy
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):
President, the progress of a number of green projects mentioned by the Secretary in the main reply only illustrates that many green economic activities are taking place in Hong Kong, but the completion of some green infrastructure projects has been delayed. I would like to follow up on Mr MA Fung-kwok’s question just now. The waste paper recycling and manufacturing plant was expected to process 300 000 tonnes of waste paper a year. The Environmental Protection Department invited tenders in 2018. The plant was expected to commence design and construction in 2019 and be put into operation in 2023. However, as the operator withdrew the tender, the site has been left to bask in the sun for two years. Just now, the Secretary said that tenders will be invited afresh this year for a modern pulping facility. I would like to further ask the Secretary whether the Government has made any claims against the successful bidder as its withdrawal caused the original project to fall through. Is the replacement pulping facility also an environmental infrastructure?
SECRETARY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (in Cantonese):
President, I thank Member for the question. This involves two aspects. As the case has been referred to the court, I think it is inappropriate to say too much here. We will certainly follow up with the relevant company in accordance with the contract terms.
Second, I think this incident can be taken as an opportunity because in the early years, the more conventional process adopted by waste paper recycling plants required more space, electricity and water. With the tightening of policy in the Mainland, the technology of turning waste paper into pulp has undergone some breakthroughs in the last couple of years around the world. We hope to turn the crisis into an opportunity through this incident and make good use of Hong Kong’s limited resources because water and electricity are relatively expensive here. Hence, we take this opportunity to convert the waste paper plant into a pulping plant through a tender exercise to take advantage of the new pulp recycling technology and turn waste into resources for handling local waster paper. So, we are handling this incident in this approach. Nevertheless, we will speed up the relevant tender procedures. The pulping technology is relatively new and simple. We hope it can be put on the market as soon as possible.
Another advantage of the pulping plant is that, in addition to general mainstream recyclable waste paper (i.e. cartons, newspapers and office paper), our local pulping plant may also be able to turn some miscellaneous, previously less recycled and non-exportable waste paper into resources, thus further reducing the pressure on landfills.