SCMP Friday, September 1, 2000

SAR 'too small' for recycling industry

WAN WAI-KWAN

Financial Secretary Donald Tsang cast doubt yesterday on the economic viability of the recycling industry despite green groups and trade unions insisting that it could create jobs while improving the environment.
Mr Tsang said he did not see a future for the industry. Neither did he consider it proper for the Government to provide incentives like land or tax concessions without a viable plan. He said Hong Kong was a small place and could not sustain viable recycling industries.
"To set up a recycling business, you need a big piece of land. Location is a problem," he said.
Implementing environmental measures meant taking money out of the public's pocket, which was not easy, he said. "The user-pays principle is always difficult to implement."
Mr Tsang said it would be difficult for the SAR to co-operate with Guangdong and handle recycled materials on the mainland. "The mainland expects us to export skills in information technology, not garbage." But he said his door was not closed. "If anyone . . . has any good idea, he is always welcome to have a discussion."
Greenpeace chief executive Ho Wai-chi, who met Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in July, said Mr Tung was "clearly interested" and did not reject ideas on recycling. But Mr Ho said he was not surprised Mr Tsang had reached a different conclusion when considering financial viability.
He accused Mr Tsang of ignoring business opportunities with the mainland. "We should eye the Pearl River Delta region. We can recycle materials on the mainland, import useful products back to Hong Kong, while other products like fertilisers from compost can be used in mainland agriculture."