Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(1)78/99-00
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref: CB1/PL/EA/1

LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs

Minutes of special meeting
held on Friday, 23 July 1999, at 2:30 pm
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Christine LOH (Chairman)
Hon HUI Cheung-ching (Deputy Chairman)
Ir Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP

Non-Panel members attending :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, SBS, JP
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP

Members absent :

Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Bernard CHAN
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung

Public officers attending :

Deputy Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Environment)

Mr Anthony LO
Acting Principal Assistant Secretary for
Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)

Mr Daniel SIN
Acting Principal Assistant Secretary for
Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)

Mr CHAN Wing-sang
Deputy Secretary for Works (Works Policy)

Principal Assistant Secretary for Works (Works Policy and Safety)

Miss Sandy CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing
(Public Housing)

Deputy Director of Architectural Services

Deputy Director of Buildings

Acting Assistant Director of Buildings

Acting Assistant Director of Civil Engineering

Deputy Director of Housing (Works)

Attendance by invitation :

The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong

Mr Martin TAM

Hong Kong Construction Association

Mr Patrick CHAN
Secretary General

Mr Joseph SHEK
Chairman of Environmental Committee

City University of Hong Kong
Department of Building and Construction
Mr Joseph WONG Chung-kai
Professor GAO Xiu-feng

The Waste Reduction Committee
Mr Barrie COOK

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Mary TANG,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

I Managing construction and demolition material disposal

Meeting with the private construction industry
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1734/98-99)

The submission of Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA) was tabled at the meeting (circulated to members after the meeting vide LC Paper No. CB(1)1761/98-99(01)).

2. Mr Martin TAM said that REDA agreed in principle that the excessive production of construction and demolition materials (C&DM) should be brought under control. However, the source and the amount of waste should be clearly identified and ascertained. Referring to the submission by REDA, he explained the four major categories of C&DM arising from demolition, site formation and excavation, material wastage and breakage, and renovation. Regarding renovation waste, Mr Martin TAM stressed that the outgoing tenant/owner should be responsible for reinstating the property and disposing of renovation waste. He said that if the "user-pays" principle was to be applied and tariffs or tax was to be levied on disposal of waste, it should apply across the board and should not be targeted at the construction industry. He supported the review of the existing building legislation to keep pace with the latest technology in the reuse and recycling of C & DM.

3. Mr Patrick CHAN of the Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) said that HKCA supported the Government's strategy to use inert C & DM as public fills and to set up sorting plants for C & DM. In fact, these were the main recommendations of the research report commissioned by HKCA and conducted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1993. HKCA was aware of the acute shortage of public filling areas and the resultant pressure on landfill spaces. It therefore urged the Administration to implement strategies to manage C & DM disposal. Referring to paragraphs 2.2 to 2.6 of HKCA's submission, Mr Patrick CHAN said that developers should be required to include a waste disposal plan in their project planning. The criteria for C & DM disposal should be clearly stated in the contract. To effectively implement the waste disposal plan, HKCA suggested the introduction of "Plan for on-site sorting" and "Pay for C & DM disposal" under which developers were to set aside working areas for the contractor to carry out sorting operations and contractors would be paid for properly disposing of C & DM. These proposals would provide supporting facilities and incentives for contractors to manage waste properly. A waste reduction plan should include aspects such as modification of material specifications and avoidance of over-provision. The long term solution should be waste minimisation. Concluding his presentation, Mr Patrick CHAN stressed that the implementation of the Landfill Charging Scheme alone could not reduce the production of C & DM, nor could it divert the waste from landfills. Moreover, a high landfill charge would encourage fly tipping.

4. Mr Edward HO opined that developers could help reduce the production of C & DM by stipulating in the building contract the prohibited use of non-reusable wooden formworks. As this would incur extra costs on the part of developers, he sought the view of REDA on developers' attitude towards the problem of C & DM disposal.

5. In response, Mr Martin TAM said that the problem of excessive C & DM did not arise by accident. Developers had to pay for construction materials. Part of these materials, particularly those temporary materials brought into the sites for ensuring safety, would inevitably be disposed of as waste. Whilst developers were ready to assist in reducing C & DM, they had to respect contractors' ways of doing things. As C & DM were part and parcel of the building process, he urged the Administration and the building profession to review the existing building regulations and the conventional building methodology.

6. Mr Edward HO said that there were new building processes which could effectively reduce material wastage, for example the dry wall system which was commonly used in overseas countries. However, following these processes would incur extra building costs. Unless developers and contractors were willing to invest in this aspect, it would be difficult to change the conventional building methods.

7. Mr Joseph SHEK of HKCA said that HKCA had all along accepted that contractors had a responsibility to reduce waste and HKCA had been actively participating in the Waste Reduction Committee. In fact, many projects of the Housing Authority had been using reusable metal formworks rather than timber formworks. Apart from using reusable materials, another means to reduce waste was to standardise the size of hoardings so that they could be used in other construction sites, thereby reducing wastage. Mr SHEK said that the use of reusable materials should be specified in the contracts.

8. Mr Martin TAM of REDA said that developers were willing to invest in reusable materials. However, on many occasions, these materials had to be discarded because they could not be timely used in other construction sites. It would be difficult to standardise the size of building materials because contractors had a choice of building materials that should be used.

9. Ir Dr Raymond HO said that the construction industry should try its best to minimise the wet building processes and maximise the use of reuseable materials. He sought the industry's view on the setting up of on-site sorting plants for C & DM. Mr Joseph SHEK said that HKCA considered that more should be done by the Government in encouraging sorting and recycling of C & DM. There was also a need to set up central sorting centres at major construction sites as this would facilitate the recycling process. As regards the minimisation of the wet building processes, Mr Martin TAM said that the Housing Department had been using the pre-cast method which was an improvement. Other private contractors had also been trying to use more improved methods. Ir Dr Raymond HO requested REDA and HKCA to encourage their members to use more frequently the dry building processes.

10. Mr Martin LEE noted with concern the common practice that owners of new premises demolished the fittings for redecoration. This generated a large amount of renovation waste. He was of the view that this wastage could have been avoided if developers offered purchasers of new flats with different options on fittings at different prices. Mr Edward HO shared Mr LEE's view and said that owners should be given a choice on the type of materials to be used in their units.

11. In response, Mr Martin TAM said that presently the majority of new private developments were fully furnished with kitchens and sanitary facilities. These units were habitable after decorating the living rooms and bedrooms. Some developers did provide choices for flooring. Mr Patrick CHAN said that the present building regulations required the provision of basic fittings such as doors and sanitary facilities. Owing to the non-standardisation of these items, they could not be reused in most cases.

12. Miss Emily LAU said that to effectively reduce C & DM, old buildings should be renovated rather than demolished as far as practicable. Mr Martin TAM agreed that buildings should not be demolished unless their state was beyond repair. Mr Patrick CHAN said that because of the constraints in building designs, it was not always possible to make major alterations to meet the latest requirements and standards. This explained the need for demolishing old buildings. Mr Joseph SHEK added that the Buildings Department had been working on measures to extend the service life of buildings through better maintenance.

13. Referring to the submissions from REDA and HKCA, Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed disappointment over their passive attitude in finding solutions to tackle the problem. He said that developers and contractors should not evade their responsibility and should take a more active role in reducing generation of C & DM. He supported the provision of incentives for contractors to reduce C & DM.

14. Mr Joseph SHEK said that as the existing tender system was based on pricing, contractors tended to use cheaper materials for hoardings and scaffoldings unless specifications for reusable materials were written in the contracts. The introduction of a waste disposal plan which specified the type of reusable materials to be used would assist in reducing waste.

15. Mr Martin TAM said that developers normally would not specify the use or otherwise of reusable building materials. The discretion rested with the contractors. He pointed out that there were difficulties in using certain kinds of reusable materials such as metal formworks as these were subject to corrosion.

16. Mrs Miriam LAU sought details on the incentive/award scheme proposed by REDA. She recalled that the Waste Reduction Committee had stated at the last meeting on 11 June 1999 that the proposed landfill charge would only constitute a small part of the construction costs. She queried why REDA objected to the introduction of a landfill charge and enquired whether it would consider the charging system acceptable if an incentive scheme was introduced.

17. Mr Martin TAM said that REDA supported the control of C & DM disposal but considered that any landfill charging system should apply across the board to all industries. Before implementing the landfill charging system, the Government need to assess its implications, as some of the costs would be transferred onto the public. In his view, the whole community had to participate in waste reduction and the responsibility did not rest with the construction industry solely.

18. Mr Joseph SHEK said that HKCA supported a landfill charging system. However, the charging level should not be too high, otherwise it would generate fly-tipping. Moreover, other measures to reduce generation of C & DM had to be put in place as well. Contractors would be motivated to reduce waste if economic incentives were included in the contract.

Meeting with the Department of Building and Construction, City University of Hong Kong
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1734/98-99(03))

19. With the aid of an overhead projector, Mr Joseph WONG gave a presentation on his research findings on the recycling of C & DM. He said that only 40% to 50% of C & DM could be recycled under the existing technologies. However, it was possible to recycle 90% of C & DM in the long run but this would require new technologies, new policies, new construction standards and methods, and the cooperation of different parties. His research findings indicated that concrete recycling was a possible step to resolve the disposal problem of C & DM. In the first half of 1999, about 3.5 million tonnes of C & D waste were produced and of which, half were concrete debris. These concretes could be reused for constructing buildings, roads and bridges. Based on their research findings, 125 buildings with 200 units each could absorb half of the amount of these concretes. He added that buildings in Hong Kong were structurally safe in design. The wind code adopted in Hong Kong stipulated very stringent requirements in building designs. The relaxation of the wind code could reduce construction costs by about 10% to 20%. There were available technologies that could be able to monitor the safety of buildings and these could be applied to Hong Kong.

20. Professor GAO Xiu-feng then explained the technical aspects of C & DM recycling. He said that some C & DM could be recycled for use several times and recycling of C & DM was common in many developed countries. The bamboo formworks used in Hong Kong could be reused for eight times. In the Mainland, these could be reused for as many as 40 times.

21. On Mr LEE Wing-tat's enquiry about on-site sorting and recycling measures, Mr Joseph WONG said that given limited spaces, it was not always feasible to sort C & DM on site. It would be more efficient and cost-effective if pre-cast materials could be manufactured at a site adjacent to the sorting facilities. He noted the Administration's plan to set up C & DM sorting facilities at Tseung Kwan O and Chai Wan by 2000 and 2002 respectively.

22. The Chairman was concerned about the application of research findings on the recycling of C & DM to the construction industry. Mr Joseph WONG said that it would be difficult for tertiary institutes to conduct testing on construction technologies on a large scale. At present, most of the private research grants were given to the manufacturing sector. He hoped that the Innovation and Technology Fund could be a source of funding for the conduct of research studies on construction technology.

23. The Chairman said that construction technology might not be considered as innovative technology but that the matter could be followed up. Mr Martin TAM said that REDA would support the introduction on the part of Government of an inducement programme to encourage researches on technological improvements in construction methods.

24. Mrs Sophie LEUNG considered it necessary for the construction industry to take the lead and work together with academics and Government in the formulation of new construction technology which would help reduce and recycle C & DM.

Meeting with the Waste Reduction Committee (WRC)
(LC Paper CB(1)1734/98-99(04))

25. Mr Barrie COOK, Chairman of WRC, said that the latest figures showed that of the 33,000 tonnes of C & DM generated each day, 7,000 tonnes were disposed of in landfills. These statistics were publicly available and should REDA have any queries on these figures, WRC would be willing to provide them for reference. The available public filling areas were just sufficient to receive C & DM up to the end of year 2000. Meanwhile, the South East New Territories Landfill would be expected to be filled by the year 2005. There would be serious cost implications in dumping public fill in landfills. According to the Government's Audit Report of February 1997, 14.7 million tonnes of construction waste were disposed of in landfills between 1991 to 1995, at a cost of $942 million. Mr COOK said that he had written both to the Financial Secretary and the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands expressing concern about the large amount of C & DM which were dumped in landfills. Since the cost of dumping public fill in landfill was HK$200 per tonne, whereas using these materials for reclamation was around HK$60 to $80 per tonne, it was not financially prudent to dump C & DM into landfills. He said that one technical way to ease the mis-match between public filling capacity and fill generation was to allocate some buffer material storage areas, but it was difficult to find a suitable site for sorting and other purposes.

26. Mr COOK went on to explain the short term and long term solutions to resolve the problem of C & DM disposal as set out in WRC's submission. He stressed the need for high level discussions with Mass Transit Railway Corporation, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and other major developers with a view to seeking their cooperation in the avoidance of dumping C & DM into landfills.

27. As regards the landfill charging system, Mr COOK said that this was common in many countries and was generally regarded as a cornerstone for waste reduction. Without a landfill charge, there would be no incentive to reduce and recycle waste. The landfill charge in Singapore was $285 per tonne while that of the United Kingdom was between $220 to $300 per tonne plus a landfill tax of $125 per tonne. As for Canada, private waste collectors were charged over $300 per tonne in Vancouver and over $200 per tonne in Alberta. These countries regarded landfill charges as an incentive to reduce waste rather than a revenue raising measure.

28. Dr C S POON said that at present C & DM were mostly used as reclamation fills. Owing to the lack of public filling areas, there was a need to reduce and recycle C & DM. These C & DM could be turned into aggregates of low grade concrete for use in road foundations. He said that Hong Kong building regulations were very conservative in the specifications for building materials. There were no guidelines on how C & DM could be recycled nor was there any market for recycled timber and other building materials. The Government should try to work out measures to encourage recycling of C& DM. He supported that funds should be granted for the conduct of research studies on construction technologies which would help recycle and reduce C & DM. He said that the use of modular and pre-fabrication forms in public and private developments would help reduce C & DM. He hoped that the construction industry could be more environmentally conscious about the need to reduce C & DM.

29. Noting that WRC's submission had not mentioned about the avoidance of building demolition, Miss Emily LAU enquired whether WRC had any statistics on the percentage of C & DM generated by Government projects. She also sought WRC's view on the role played by Government in the control of C & DM disposal. Mr Barrie COOK said in response that it would be difficult to control the demolition of buildings, although this would be very effective in reducing C & DM. The subject should be further addressed by the planning function of the Administration. Waste generated from demolition of buildings would be an ongoing problem given the large number of substandard buildings in Hong Kong. To enable higher durability and longer service life, buildings would have to be built with better materials.

30. Dr C S POON added that the working group established under WRC was looking into the flexibility of building designs which would facilitate future alterations, thereby minimising the need for demolition. The group would be requesting the Administration to allow flexibility in building designs in its building regulations.

31. As regards the contribution of C & DM from the Government, Mr Barrie COOK said that Government projects accounted for a large proportion of C & DM and Government had an obligation to implement measures to control C & DM disposal.

Meeting with the Administration
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1734/98-99(05))

32. The Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (DS/PEL) said that C & DM were not themselves a problem, as these were natural products of a city under development. Problems would arise if they were not managed properly. To resolve the problem, buildings would have to be designed using the least materials possible and the choice of materials should be those which could be reused and recycled. A lot of work had been done by the academics, the construction industry and the Administration in working out measures that would effectively control C & DM disposal. The Administration intended to develop a system that would allow the reuse of C & DM. It would provide sufficient outlets for public fill, set up sorting facilities and identify sites that could be used for the recycling industry. He agreed with WRC that landfill charging should not be treated as a revenue raising measure but as an incentive to encourage the proper disposal of waste. The surplus C & DM should be diverted to more useful purposes rather than ending up as waste in landfills.

33. Noting DS/PEL's advice that Government projects accounted for about 50% of the total C & DM generated, the Chairman enquired how Government could help in reducing C & DM. The Deputy Director of Housing (Works) (DDH) said that a comparison on the volume of concrete per square metre of built area showed that Government buildings were 70% more efficient than private buildings. As for the volume of steel used, Government buildings were 20% more efficient. Government had been putting efforts in reducing the volume of building materials. It would be going through a peak in its development programme within the next two years. The designs and quality control of buildings would be considerably improved to ensure durability. Flexibility would be incorporated in the designs of public housing units and this included the use of movable internal partitions. On the question of waste generation by new tenants, DDH said that this was a major area of concern. A pilot scheme allowing future owners the choice of building materials had been launched by the Housing Authority. Surveys on the acceptability of this proposal indicated that 97% of respondents were satisfied with the scheme.

34. On the suggestion of providing a basic level of provision so that owners/tenants could upgrade according to their need, DDH said that there were clearly problems about this arrangement because not all owners/tenants would want to renovate their units. The Administration would need to decide whether a choice should be given between a minimum finishing and a more sophisticated finishing. The Housing Authority (HA) had recently endorsed an environmental strategy and waste reduction was one of its major components. It would be increasing its level of research funding into the construction industry. As for C & DM arising from demolition sites under the control of HA, only 3% of them were disposed of in landfills while the rest were reused or recycled. In response to the Chairman, the Administration agreed to provide an information paper on the reuse of C & DM generated from HA's demolition projects.

35. The Deputy Director of Architectural Service (DDAS) said that all timber hoardings used in construction sites of Architectural Services Department (ASD) had been replaced by steel hoardings. Meanwhile, most projects had been utilising steel moulds in their formworks. In awarding design and built contracts, pricing was not the sole concern and consideration had been given to measures proposed for reducing waste. ASD had set up a moving target for compliance with environmental objectives. It was also considering measures to reduce packaging by requesting suppliers to collect back the packaging materials. On the "Pay for C & DM disposal" Scheme proposed by HKCA which aimed at providing financial incentives to contractors for effecting sorting and disposal plans, DDAS said that ASD had reservations about the Scheme as this would entail Government subsidies on private construction projects. He said that members' suggestion of providing bonus to contractors who could meet targets for waste reduction could be considered. In response to the Chairman, the Administration would provide written information on the percentage of public works that were awarded as design and build contracts and the selection criteria for such contracts.Admin.

36. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Works (Works Policy and Safety) (PAS/W) referred members to Annex D to the Administration's paper which set out the management framework for C & DM disposal. He said that the role of the Works Bureau (WB) was to implement public works. It was committed to reducing the amount of C & DM generated. PAS/W briefly took members through Annex C to the paper which listed out the measures taken by WB in encouraging the reuse and recycling of C & DM. Referring to the "Pay for C & DM disposal" Scheme proposed by HKCA, PAS/W said that the idea had been considered but was found to be not entirely feasible. Since the Scheme would not be able to solve the problem of disposal of C & DM, it had not been recommended by the Public Filling Subcommittee.

37. On Miss Emily LAU's request for clarification on the percentage of C & DM which were being dumped in landfills, DDH confirmed that only 3% of the C & DM generated from demolition contracts for public housing blocks were dumped in landfills. DS/PEL added that according to the data provided by WRC, about 20% of the total C & DM generated were dumped in landfills. The Administration was aiming at a further reduction of disposal of C & DM at landfills.

38. As regards Miss Emily LAU's enquiry about whether public projects could achieve a high percentage of reuse of C & DM, DDAS said that since most of the projects undertaken by ASD were construction projects, the percentage of C & DM generated from demolition projects was small. In response to members, ASD would provide a breakdown on the nature of its works projects. ASD

39. Referring to WRC's recommendation of transporting public fill to nearby Mainland areas for reclaiming land as one of the long term solutions, Mr HUI Cheung-ching enquired if there were any legislation governing such disposal and whether this proposal was feasible and cost effective. DS/PEL said that he was not aware of any restriction on the disposal of public fill in the Mainland. The proposed arrangement would have to be sorted out by the local contractors in consultation with their Mainland counterparts. The arrangement had not been considered at Government-to-Government level since it was a generally accepted principle that each place should look after its own waste. However, if there was a need for such fill material in the Mainland, arrangements could be made for the fill to be transported.

40. Referring to DDH's statement that public housing projects were 70% more efficient than private projects in the use of concrete and 20% more efficient in the use of steel, Mr Edward HO asked if the comparison was made on a like-for-like basis since public housing developments were relatively large with no standard plot ratio. He enquired if public housing was designed in accordance with the code of practice under the Buildings Ordinance, Cap123, as in the case of private housing. He also sought the Administration's views on whether the current building code on wind loading was too conservative, resulting in over-design.

41. DDH said that the study on efficiency rates of buildings was undertaken by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the City University of Hong Kong recently and the findings were presented to the Building Committee of the Housing Authority in July 1999. The study compared the harmony design and the concorde design of public and private housing. Comparison was made on a like-for-like basis in terms of flat size. The use of concrete was 17.2% for constructed floor area and 24.4% for reinforcement for public housing. DDH confirmed that public housing projects complied with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance.

42. As regards the wind code, the Deputy Director of Buildings (DDB) said that this was being reviewed by a working party comprising representatives from professional institutions. The Administration need to be conservative on the side of caution but it allowed deviations in respect of special designs on wind effects. He concurred about the need to review the wind code in the context of reducing waste and other environmental objectives.

43. Given the scale of public works and the extent of C & DM production, Mr LEE Wing-tat and Miss Emily LAU were of the view that the Administration should consider including in each funding submission to the Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) an estimate of the amount of C & DM produced from the works project in question and the measures to be taken to reduce and manage waste. The Deputy Secretary for Works pointed out that all capital works projects had to meet the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance. In implementing the projects, contractors were required under the terms of the contract to ensure proper disposal of C & DM in public filling areas. He agreed that members' suggestion was feasible.

(Post-meeting note: A letter requesting confirmation of the said arrangement to be commenced in the 1999-2000 LegCo session was sent to the Secretary for Works on 26 July 1999.)

44. Mr LEE Wing-tat requested the Administration to consider the feasibility of adopting the "empty shell" concept for new public housing units since up to about 50% of the owners were found to demolish the new sanitary and other fittings provided by the Housing Authority. He noted that the Buildings Department had been opposing this concept, as the adoption of which might pose difficulties in complying with the requirements set out in the Buildings Ordinance.

45. In response, DDB said that the Buildings Department had to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance and that the building was in a habitable condition before an occupation permit could be issued. The Buildings Ordinance required the provision of basic fittings and as such, a unit without sanitary fittings could not be regarded as "habitable" and an occupation permit could not be issued. The proposed empty shell concept was a step further from the basic shell concept and a working group had been set up under the Buildings Department to examine whether and how the empty shell concept could be taken forward without compromising the requirements under the Buildings Ordinance. DDB further pointed out that comparatively speaking, the problem of removing new sanitary fittings in private housing was not serious. Only 5% to 10% of owners of private housing would remove new sanitary fittings, whereas the figure went up to 50% in the case of public housing.

46. Mr LEE Wing-tat disagreed that the problem was not serious given the quantity of new private developments in Hong Kong per year. He called on a review of the definition of "habitable condition" in view of the large amount of new sanitary fittings demolished by owners. The Chairman concurred with Mr LEE that a more proactive approach should be taken by the Administration in reducing waste and that the empty shell concept should be further pursued.

47. DS/PEL said that the empty shell concept would have to be tried out to see how the public reacted to its application. A careful approach had to be taken because considerable confusion might arise from its implementation. The Administration would consider adopting the concept if it was found acceptable to the public and at the same time would reduce waste.

48. Mr LEE Wing-tat clarified that he was not advocating the empty shell concept for each and every unit. Owners should be given a choice as to whether sanitary fittings should be provided. The proposed arrangement would definitely reduce waste. The proposal would be viable but its implementation would need the approval of the Buildings Department.

49. DDB said that apart from the need to introduce legislative amendments, the implementation of the empty shell concept would give rise to technical difficulties. It would be difficult to ensure proper installation of sanitary fittings in compliance with the Buildings Ordinance. The working group would need to examine the feasibility of the empty shell concept and its implications and would report the outcome to the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands for consideration.

50. Mr Edward HO was of the view that the basic sanitary fittings such as water pipes, toilets and sinks should be provided by developers. These would need to be properly installed before an occupation permit could be issued. However, if owners wished to have a higher quality of fittings, they could make arrangements with the developers. He said that most owners would prefer to have basic sanitary fittings installed within their units and the idea of an empty shell with no sanitary fittings might not be acceptable.

51. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Public Housing) said that to resolve the problem of renovation waste, there could be a three-pronged approach. This would include -

  1. reviewing the empty shell concept by the working party under the Buildings Department;

  2. upgrading the quality of fittings to reduce the chance of demolition; and

  3. providing owners with choices.

52. Professor GAO said that the empty shell concept was commonly applied in the Mainland during 1980s. This approach allowed for flexibility in the housing designs.

53. Noting the involvement of various bureaux and departments in considering the empty shell concept, the Chairman sought clarification of the bureau/department who would take the lead. DS/PEL said that the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB) was responsible for working out policies on waste reduction. Since the empty shell concept would rely on social acceptability of new housing designs, PELB would not be in a position to steer these changes. It would report the position to members after the Buildings Department and the Housing Department had reviewed the situation based on the data provided.

54. Members considered that there should be more co-ordination and co-operation among different parties in devising measures to reduce waste. They noted that the Administration would bring up the whole package of landfill charging scheme for members' consideration in October/November of this year. Members agreed to further discuss the subject of C & DM disposal after the summer recess.

II Any other business

55. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 5:40 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
8 October 1999