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Hong Kong on Monday launched a ten-year plan to reduce waste by 40 percent per person as part of efforts to catch up with other leading Asian cities and avert a looming environmental crisis.
With a population of more than 7 million, the city currently sends 1.27 kg (2.8 pounds) per person per day to three huge outdoor landfill sites which are set to reach capacity by 2020.
The government’s ‘blueprint’ document proposed reaching its reduction target by expanding recycling, levying duties on household rubbish and improving waste-related infrastructure.
It also mooted the possibility of building incinerators and extending existing landfill sites.
“To face the challenges of the waste issue fundamentally, we need the joint efforts of the entire community to embrace an environmentally sustainable culture in daily life,” the city’s environmental minister Wong Kam-sing told reporters.
“We are committed to taking all the necessary decisions and actions now so we can put Hong Kong on a clear path…towards a use less, waste less lifestyle,” Wong said in the document.
The government hopes to recycle 55 percent of the city’s waste, incinerate 23 percent and place 22 percent in landfills by 2022. In 2011, 52 percent of waste was put into landfills and 48 percent recycled.
But the proposal to build an incinerator is unpopular with residents and some environmentalists.
Other possible measures include an expansion of food-waste recycling, a waste separation and collection system, a charge on construction waste and landfill extensions.
The majority of the 9,000 tonnes of rubbish generated in Hong Kong each day is from households, business and industry and made primarily of putrescibles, paper and plastics, the report said.
The southern Chinese city has a high waste generation rate compared to other Asian cities of similar economic development, Wong said, adding that Hong Kong is behind because it has not taken enough steps to reduce waste.
Hong Kong’s generation of waste per person is higher than other large Asian cities, including Metro Tokyo and Seoul which generate only 0.77 kg and 0.95 kg of daily waste per person, according to the document.
Wong also offered Taipei as an example where a volume-based waste fee system helped reduced waste per person by 65 percent from 2000 to 2011, according to Taiwan Environmental Authority statistics.
The city’s Environmental Protection Department had previously published a 10-year framework for managing the city’s waste in 2005 but has been criticised for failing to implement much of the plan.
Garden gnomes invaded Chelsea Flower Show on Monday as the prestigous horticultural event relaxed a ban on the diminutive ornaments to raise cash for charity.
Musician Elton John and Downtown Abbey actress Dame Maggie Smith are among celebrities who have painted individual gnomes in support of the Chelsea centenary appeal, which aims to bring more young people into the industry.
The gnomes, which appeared inside the showground overnight ahead of Monday’s preview of the flower extravaganza, will be auctioned on e-Bay. The show in London formally opens on Tuesday.
“A survey of 1,000 people last year revealed that 70 percent of 18-year-olds believe horticultural careers should only be considered by people who have failed academically,” said broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh, a vice-president of the show’s organisers, the Royal Horticultural Society.
“We must act now to make horticulture appeal to young people. We must engage with them in an interesting way to discover the immense job satisfaction and wealth of opportunities horticulture can offer.”
The appeal aims to fund projects including apprenticeships, creating a learning centre at the RHS’s Hyde Hall garden in Essex and supporting the society’s campaign for school gardening.
More than 16,500 schools have signed up to the school gardening project.
RHS director general Sue Biggs said: “We’ve all got a duty to engage youngsters with getting their hands dirty and getting back to nature, and finding out what horticulture is about.
“Gardening is such a good thing to do, it’s outdoors, it’s healthy, you can meet your neighbours, grow your own and cut your costs. Everything about gardening is positive, but it’s not cool.”
The RHS established its Great Spring Show in 1862, staging it in Kensington then at the Temple near the Embankment until 1911, before it transferred permanently in 1913 to the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
The Chelsea event was cancelled in 1917 and 1918 but was fully revived in the 1920s, although the general strike in 1926 caused it to be delayed by a week. After cancellation during the Second World War, the show has been staged every year since 1947.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were scheduled on Monday evening to visit the show, where special features this year include displays in the Great Pavilion showing brand new plants alongside favourites from 1913. A total of 550 exhibitors have stands or display gardens at the show.