Evaluating sustainability in waste management: The case of construction and demolition, chemical and clinical wastes in Hong Kong

Shan Shan Chung, Carlos W.H. Lo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper intends to set out clearly defined criteria for evaluating sustainability in solid waste management and have them illustrated by a modern Chinese city - Hong Kong. Following a thorough literature review, four evaluative criteria are derived: environmental desirability, economic optimization, social acceptability and equity and administrative diligence. These four criteria are then applied in the context of Hong Kong for the evaluation of the management performance of construction and demolition waste, clinical waste and chemical waste. Although the need to attain sustainability is compelling in Hong Kong, our analysis shows that the management of construction and demolition waste, clinical waste and chemical waste has failed in almost all the sustainability criteria. In terms of controlling the environmental impact from waste management, only end of pipe treatment is adequately delivered but preventive waste management programs are far from adequate. In terms of waste management economics, economic incentives have yet to be instituted for most waste generators. Thus, the present levels of waste generation in Hong Kong far exceed social and economic optimal. Furthermore, although Hong Kong has been commended by having an efficient government, the ability of the government to induce environmentally responsible behavior from private waste generators is weak and thus failing the administrative diligence criterion as well. In the management of the three types of waste, the welfare of future generations is often sacrificed for the narrower, sectoral or district community interests. The myopic environmental welfare view in the Hong Kong community is a logical result of the minimal effort devoted to build up social capital stock and environmental citizenship culture. The main causes for the unsatisfactory waste management performance in Hong Kong is closely related to the governance style of the government rather than some general causes such as a lack of technological know-how or financial constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-145
Number of pages27
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chemical waste
  • Clinical waste
  • Construction and demolition waste
  • Government by consent
  • Hong Kong
  • NIMBY
  • Positive non-intervention
  • Sustainability criteria

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