Managing Construction and Demolition Material Disposal


At the Panel meeting on 11 June 1999, the Administration briefed Members on the management of construction and demolition material (C&DM) 1 , and set out improvement measures. Members expressed concerns and requested the Administration to provide more detailed information on the measures to be taken. This paper responds to certain points raised by Members and sets out the key measures being taken by Government.


2. In the first half of 1999, the construction industry produced about 3.5 million cubic metres of C&DM, a 10 % increase in quantity over the same period in 1998. Although about 78% of the C&DM produced was reused, the rest, on average about 7,700 tonnes per day, was disposed at the landfills. It is much better for C&DM to be used for public filling, helping to create land that is of value for Hong Kong and reducing the amount of material that has to be obtained from quarrying or seabed extraction to form that land. If it goes into landfills, it simply takes up space that has been formed at considerable cost to contain municipal solid waste safely. Providing sufficient public filling capacity for C&DM is the key to diverting C&DM away from landfills. Sorting will reduce the amount of C&DM disposed at the landfills by about 20%, but only if there are sufficient public filling outlets to take the additional inert material produced by separation.

3. In recent years, public concerns and objections have often delayed, reduced or stopped the implementation of planned reclamation projects in particular within the inner harbour. This has reduced the expected provision of new public filling areas and reduced the outlet capacity. Based on the estimated capacity of committed reclamation projects, there will be virtually no public filling capacity available by the end of 2000. If reclamation projects that are already in the Public Works Programme Category B proceed as planned, sufficient public filling capacity will be available up to 2003. Annexes A and B list the available public filling capacities of approved and planned reclamation projects.

4. Alongside identifying and implementing projects that will use public fill, measures to contain the volume of C&DM will continue to be developed, and opportunities to use it for other purposes than public fill will be explored. Rough preliminary assessment suggests that while there is potential for other uses, these may take up only around 10% or so of the volume of C&DM being produced. Landfill charging will also be needed to provide the economic incentive to companies to explore these options.


5. At the meeting on 11 June 1999, Members were briefed on measures to minimise disposal of inert material at landfills. The following specific measures are planned -

(a) Avoid or Reduce C&DM generation
  • Greater use is to be made of reusable steel formwork in the construction of non-domestic public buildings and highway structures.

  • Works Bureau (WB) and the Fill Management Committee (FMC) will endeavour to ensure that public works projects achieve a balance of cut and fill as far as possible and maximise the reuse of excavated material.

  • Buildings Department (BD) will issue a Practice Note for Authorised Persons and Registered Structural Engineers on minimising construction and demolition waste in private construction projects after consulting the Building Sub-committee of the Land and Building Advisory Committee in July 1999.

  • BD has reviewed the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance on requirements in respect of essential fitments. The initial view is that sanitary fitments are required to ensure fitness for occupation. Housing Department (HD) is examining with BD how best to avoid unnecessary alterations of fitments in subsidised housing units while satisfying the sanitary requirements. Consideration is also being given to a "Empty Shell" approach.

  • For the longer term, BD will set up a Working Group to examine the feasibility of the "Empty Shell" approach (or some mixed approach) including the administrative, financial, statutory, technical and social implications. The Working Group will recommend a suitable way to achieve both objectives of reducing C&D waste and ensuring fitness for occupation.

  • The Waste Reduction Committee and its Construction Industry Task Force are reviewing existing practices, standards, specifications, statutory requirements, etc. to identify opportunities for avoidance and minimisation of C&DM.
    (b) Recycling and Reuse of C&DM

    • A temporary sorting facility is in operation in the South East New Territory Landfill (SENT) until 2001 to recover inert material from C&DM received before the waste is disposed in the landfill. We plan to establish two C&DM sorting facilities, one each at Tseung Kwan O and Chai Wan by mid 2000 and 2002 respectively. These facilities will be able to handle about 2000 tonnes of mixed C&D waste per day. This would separate the C&D waste from inert material before disposal at landfills. Sites for more sorting facilities to provide reasonable access across the territory are being sought.

    • We are reviewing the programme of planned reclamation and site formation projects to identify opportunities for early commencement so as to maximise the reuse of public fill.

    • We have and will continue to stockpile public fill, where it is practicable, on newly reclaimed land as temporary buffer storage. We are considering the economic viability of setting up a 'fill bank' and searching for possible sites for this.

    • WB will shortly issue a guideline on construction site waste management. Existing material specifications are being reviewed for opportunities for wider use of recycled C&DM.

    • Annex C provides further information on major existing measures and other longer terms proposals to encourage the reuse and recycling of C&DM.

    (c) Landfill Charging and Management of C&DM Disposal

    • To minimise the disposal of C&DM at landfills the Waste Reduction Framework Plan recommends the introduction of landfill and C&DM sorting facilities charges. Charging will provide the necessary economic incentive to promote separation and recycling businesses.

    • Adequate advance notice would be given on the introduction of charges to allow the industry to take them into account in tenders and contracts.

    • We intend to extend the public works contracts' "Trip Ticket System 2 " to all construction sites to better manage the disposal of C&DM to landfills, public filling areas and other legal outlets. The Housing Authority started phasing in a similar trip ticket system on 1 July 1999.

    (d) Institutional Changes

    • The existing legislative controls and the responsibilities for managing C&DM are spread across a wide range departments and bureaux. Annex D sets out the existing institutional arrangement for C&DM management and lists the legislation administered by each bureau and department. It is intended that, upon the establishment of the Environment and Food Bureau on 1 January 2000, responsibilities for C&DM management and landfill management will be consolidated under a single bureau. This will provide a structure to formulate and implement comprehensive measures to reduce C&DM, and reduce C&D waste.

    6. The Administration is discussing measures to reduce C&DM with the construction industry and the developers through the Waste Reduction Committee and its Construction Industry Task Force. The Committee and Task Force were established under the Waste Reduction Framework Plan with membership from professionals, academia, government, developers and the construction industry. The Terms of Reference and Membership of the Committee and the Task Force are at Annex E. There is general consensus on the principles and measures needed to tackle the issues. The Committee will be submitting their recommendations to the Panel in conjunction with discussion of this paper.


    7. Construction is the second largest industrial economic activity accounting for 5.8% of the Gross Domestic Product 3 in 1997. Real expenditure 4 on construction has increased by more than 50% between 1990 and 1998. The private sector accounted for more than 50% of the annual expenditures. Whilst civil engineering works are mainly publicly funded, the private sector is the key player in building construction, providing more than 30% and 90% of the annual supply of domestic units and commercial and office spaces respectively.

    8. Despite the recent economic downturn, future demand will remain high. This is the result of the society's continual demand for new development and urban renewal to meet the needs of the growing population and aspirations to improve the quality of life and the environment. This will lead to more C&DM being produced, requiring better management.

    The anticipated rate of future development to meet social needs; the public's requirement for greater attention to the environment and the intensity of demand for space all make greater forward planning and wider perspectives essential for effective management of C&DM and C&D waste. This requires co-ordination of policies and closer liaison between the Administration and the construction industry.

    9. The measures outlined above will help mainly to alleviate the short to medium term pressure on the environment from C&DM. Looking further ahead integrating the management of C&DM with that of municipal solid waste needs to be considered. The space constraints for setting up facilities for separation, recovery, reuse and disposal apply to all recovered materials and waste. Integration may offer opportunities to keep down overall costs. One possibility we will explore is to use public fill to form land required for the next generation of landfills. Flexible and robust solutions that can adapt to changing circumstances will need to be found.

    10. Changing the way the society looks at buildings and construction is also important. The Buildings Safety Inspection Scheme would help to extend the life of a building through better maintenance. Improvements in construction technology, material and design have helped to make buildings more durable. These measures defer the need for building demolition, thereby reducing the amount of C&DM produced in the long term. The Administration is working closely with developers, professionals and the construction industry to raise awareness of more sustainable approaches to building construction, management and demolition.

    Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau,
    Works Bureau and Housing Bureau
    July 1999

    1. C&DM is a mixture of inert and organic material arising from site clearance, excavation, construction, refurbishment, renovation, demolition and road works. The inert material, called public fill, is suitable for reuse in reclamation and site formation works. Some of it can also be used for recycling into material for construction. Ideally, only the organic material called construction and demolition waste (C&D waste) should be disposed of at landfills.

    2. Unless exempted by WB, the Trip Ticket System requires proponent of public works projects to identify in the planning stage, designated outlets for public fill and C&D waste it produce and to maintain records for the proper disposal during construction.

    3.Percentage of Gross Domestic Product at Current Prices (At Factor Cost Production-Based Estimates) published by the Census and Statistics Department. The monetary values reflect the contribution of the construction industry's net value-added output.

    4. Expenditure at constant 1990 Market Prices provide by the Census and Statistics Department. The monetary values reflect the expenditures accrued at construction sites.

    Annex A and Annex B

    English version not yet available
    Please refer to Chinese version

    Annex C

    Recycling and Reuse of C&D Material

    1. Measures Taken to Encourage the Re-use and Recycling of C&D Material

    • In all public works contracts, it is specified that earthwork materials that are suitable for use in the permanent work should be re-used in the permanent work 1 .

    • In March 1998 2 , Works Bureau promulgated a policy that all reclamation and earth filling projects that have imported filling requirement more than 300,000m 3 are required to use public fill (the inert portion of the C&D materials) unless exemption is sought from the relevant authority . This is intended to ensure that designers of reclamations and other earth filling projects give priority to re-use C&DM and hence increase the capacity for re-using such material in other projects.

    • The following measures have been taken to encourage re-use of the inert portion of C&DM in public filling areas :

      • relaxing the acceptance criteria of public fill to include oversized rocks and a small amount of timber;

      • requiring the contractors managing public filling operations to accept wet soil;

      • operating public filling barging points at strategic locations; and

      • liaising closely with the construction industry to encourage contractors to deliver the inert portion of C&DM to public filling areas

    • From 1 April 1998 4 , all public works projects comprising 100% demolition works have been required to carry out on-site sorting of all C&DM so as to separate the materials into different groups for re-use in public filling areas, for recycling or for disposal at landfills.

    • Since 1 July 1999, all public works contracts have adopted a trip-ticket system for the proper disposal of C&DM. When the landfill charging scheme is implemented, this system will provide an added incentive to encourage contractors to reduce, re-use and recycle C&DM generated from their construction activities.

    2. Proposed Measures to Encourage Recycling and Re-use of C&DM

    • Works Bureau proposes to prohibit the use of timber in site hoardings for all public works contracts starting from year 2000. Contractors will be required to use other re-usable materials such as steel, aluminum etc. for hoardings. This practice has been adopted by Housing Department since 1994

    • Works Bureau is preparing to issue guidelines on construction site waste management in public works contracts to promote the reduction, re-use and recycling C&DM in early 2000.

    • Works Bureau is consulting the industry on the feasibility of wider use of recycled C&DM in the industry.

    • The current material specifications for public works are being reviewed to explore the possibility of allowing wider use of recycled C&DM.

    • Project designers will be encouraged to explore the use of re-usable materials in their design and construction method to enable the use of re-usable formworks. Housing Department has been using large panel formwork in building contracts since late 1980's. There are now a number of proprietary systems in the market.

    • The programmes of some reclamation and earth filling projects are being reviewed to see if their programmes can be advanced in order to provide more pubic filling capacity.

    1.See General specification for Civil Engineering Works cl. 6.16 - 6.18.

    2. See Works Bureau Technical Circular No. 4/98.

    3. Deputy Director (Civil), CED is the authority.

    4. See Works Bureau Technical Circular No. 5/98.

    Annex D


    1. Departments and Bureaux involved

    • Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB) has policy responsibility for the management of C&DM. Its main objective is to ensure that C&DM does not unnecessarily fill the expensive and rapidly depleting landfill space.

    • Works Bureau (WB) is responsible for

      --setting standards and requirements for public works contracts regarding the sorting of C&DM into public fill and C&D waste;

      --exploring opportunities to recycle public fill in public works projects; and

      --setting guidelines for minimising the generation of C&DM for public works projects.

    • Civil Engineering Department's (CED) involvement includes -

      --the Fill Management Committee (FMC), chaired by Director of Civil Engineering, manages the use of fill resources in Hong Kong and the disposal of dredged mud in Hong Kong's waters.

      --the Public Filling Sub-committee (PFSC) of the FMC, chaired by Deputy Director (Civil) of Civil Engineering Department, is responsible for co-ordinating the use of public fill for reclamation and site formation and for overseeing the implementation of public filling facilities and outlets.

      --the Port Works Division of the Civil Engineering Office implements and operates the public filling facilities and some of the public filling areas.

      --the Fill Management Division of the Geotechnical Engineering Office monitors the use of fill resources and manages the disposal of dredged sediments.

    • Territory Development Department (TDD) manages some Public Filling Areas as part of its reclamation projects.

    • Environmental Protection Department (EPD) manages the landfills that receive C&D waste (as well as municipal solid waste), and operates a temporary sorting facility at the South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill (the facility separates inert material for use in the landfill operation such as cover material).

    2. Related legislative provisions

    • The authority to issue licences for public filling is in the Lands (Miscellaneous Provision) Ordinance, delegated to Chief Engineer/Port Works, CED. The Ordinance provides that a licence is required to dump material on unleased land. There is no charge for the licence. This does not control dumping on private land.

    • The Town Planning Ordinance provides for the preparation and approval of plans for areas within which permission is required for development. The Planning Department takes enforcement actions against authorised development works including illegal dumping of C&DM on private land.

    • The Country and Marine Parks Ordinance controls dumping activities in country parks and special reserve areas and is enforced by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department.

    • The Waste Disposal Ordinance controls the disposal of waste including C&D waste and is enforced by the Environmental Protection Department

    • The Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance provides general authority to control littering and dumping of waste and is enforced by the USD and RSD.

    Annex E

    Waste Reduction Committee and
    Waste Reduction Task Force on Construction Industry
    Memberships and Terms of Reference

    1. Waste Reduction Committee

    A. Terms of Reference

    • To promote public and private sector action to reduce waste, recover and reuse resources in accordance with the policies set out in the Waste Reduction Framework Plan and as subsequently directed by the Secretary for Planning, Envrionment and Lands;

    • To co-ordinate the work of the waste reduction task force;

    • To monitor local and international developments in waste reduction, and material recovery and reuse, and advise the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands on appropriate responses; and

    • To provide an annual report to the Advisory Council on the Environment on progress towards achieving waste reduction targets.

    B. Membership

    Mr Barrie Cook, Chairman
    高保利先生, 主席
    Mr Chan Chi-kau, John Casire
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for Private Housing Sector
    Ms Cheung Lai-ping, Lister
    Mr Lau Che-feng, Edwin
    Mr Leonard Law
    Dr Poon Chi-sun
    Mr Roger L. Walker
    Professor Yue Po-lock
    Mr Jean-Marie LeClercq
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for Hotel Sector
    Mr Kwok Shek-kwun
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for Public Housing Sector
    Mr Derek Zen Wei-Peu
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for Construction Industry
    Mr Nigel Shipman
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for the Government
    Mr Richard Morse
    Chairman of the Waste Reduction Task Force for the Airport Community
    Ex-officio Members
    Deputy Secretary (Environment), Planning,
    Environment and Lands Bureau
    Director of Environmental Protection

    2. Waste Reduction Task Force on Construction Industry

    A. Terms of Reference

    • To provide a forum for discussion within the construction industry on C&D waste reduction and initiatives;

    • To consider C&D waste reduction objectives and programme for the construction industry;

    • To set targets for C&D waste reduction;

    • To form working groups under the Task Force on specific issues; and

    • To monitor and evaluate the progress of C&D waste reduction measures and report to the Waste Reduction Committee on a regular basis.

    B. Membership

    Mr Derek Zen Wei-peu, Chairman Representative of the Hong Kong Construction Association
    Mr Martin Tam Representative of the Real Estate Developer Association of Hong Kong
    Mr Cheung Kwong-wing Representative of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects
    Ir. Maurice Lee Representative of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
    Mr Nigel Mattravers Representative of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Hong Kong
    Dr C.S. Poon Department of Civil & Structural Engineering,The
    Hong Kong Polytechnic University
    Representatives of Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
    Works Bureau
    Territory Development Department
    Architectural Services Department
    Civil Engineering Department
    Housing Department
    Environmental Protection Department