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Green Technology & Environmental Services Industry in Hong Kong

Overview

  • Hong Kong’s environmental industry focuses on six business areas, including (1) water conservation and pollution control, (2) air and oadour pollution control, (3) energy conservation, (4) waste treatment, disposal and recycling, (5) noise control and mitigation, and (6) environmental consulting services.

  • The value added of Hong Kong’s environmental industry grew up by 6.7% year on year to HK$8.4 billion in 2016 (or 0.3% of GDP). Employment by the industry reached 44,300 persons in the same year, accounting for 1.3% of Hong Kong's total employment.

  • Leveraging Hong Kong’s unique strengths in the global technology revolution, green technology is one of the five core technology clusters of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP).

  • Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Science Park was completed in April 2016. Meanwhile, Phase 1 of the Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTF) at Siu Ho Wan in North Lantau was completed and commissioned in July 2018.

  • The Government provides funding supports to environmental technology-related R&D projects under the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), which has approved around 80 projects in developing clean environmental technologies and processes applicable to Hong Kong since its establishment, with the total funding amount exceeded HK$155 million.

  • Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland further strength cooperation in the environmental industry, after the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation was signed on 28 June 2017.

Industry Features

Table: Features of Hong Kong’s Green Technology & Environmental Services Industry
Table: Features of Hong Kong’s Green Technology & Environmental Services Industry

The environmental industry is widely recognised as a new growth sector. According to the latest available figures, the value added of Hong Kong’s environmental industry grew up by 6.7% year on year to HK$8.4 billion in 2016 (or 0.3% of GDP). Employment by the industry reached 44,300 persons in the same year, accounting for 1.3% of Hong Kong's total employment.

The environmental industry in Hong Kong consists of mainly small and medium-sized enterprises, which largely focus on six business areas, including (1) water conservation and pollution control, (2) air and odour pollution control, (3) energy conservation, (4) waste treatment, disposal and recycling, (5) noise control and mitigation, and (6) environmental consulting services. Some companies are also engaged in import/export and wholesale trading of waste and scrap.

 

Business AreaRelated Services
Water conservation and pollution controlRelated services rendered by the industry may involve biological treatment, chemical treatment, physical treatment, sludge treatment, etc., as well as supply and installation of equipment like monitoring/measurement/analytical apparatus and pumping systems.
Air and odour pollution controlThis includes services in relation to gas emission controls, odour/organic gases controls, particulate controls, etc., for which chemicals such as activated carbon, catalysts and scrubbing solution, as well as equipment for purposes of monitoring and analysis, enhancement of ventilation, filtration, germs killing, dehumidification/humidification, air ionization, deodorization and aromatization may be involved.
Energy conservationThis involves rendering of energy conservation services in relation to areas like recovery of residual heat and pressures, low-energy production processes and adoption of alternative and/or renewable energy.
Waste treatment, disposal and recyclingThis involves design and supply of waste handling, storage, disposal and control systems/equipment, as well as provision of waste reclamation, transportation and recycling services.
Noise control and mitigationThis involves design of noise mitigation systems and solutions, and supply of noise control equipment like noise barriers and vibration isolators.
Environmental consulting servicesWith knowledge of latest environmental technology and experience of technology integration, some Hong Kong companies are providing consulting services to enterprises in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland to help them contain pollution.

 

Mainland China is one of the fast growing and important markets for Hong Kong companies on environmental technologies and related services. According to the International Energy Agency, Mainland China is now the largest destination of energy investment in the world. In the latest National Five-Year (2016 – 2020) Eco-Environmental Protection Plan, the Chinese government identifies some major tasks in ecological environment protection, including strengthening source control, and executing the air, water and soil pollution prevention and control action plan, which are expected to further boost the development of the environmental industry in Mainland China, bringing opportunities to Hong Kong companies.

Producer Responsibility Scheme on WEEE and WEEE·PARK

Hong Kong households and business establishments generate about 70,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) every year. To promote recycling and proper disposal of WEEE generated in Hong Kong, the Government launched the Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WPRS), covering air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and monitors (collectively referred to as regulated electrical equipment, or REE) since 1 August 2018. Under the WPRS, sellers of REE must provide for consumer a free removal service for disposal of the waste equipment.

Located on a 3-hectare site in EcoPark, Tuen Mun, WEEE·PARK provides an essential infrastructure in support of WPRS. As one of the leading facilities of its kind in the world, WEEE·PARK offers 4 processing lines, adopting advanced technologies to turn regulated WEEE into valuable secondary raw materials through a series of detoxification, dismantling and recycling processes. WEEE·PARK also equips with a refurbishment workshop to divert serviceable electrical appliances received for repair into refurbished items.

The EcoPark, located in Tuen Mun, is one of the waste management facilities set up by the Government, with a site area of 20 hectares providing long term land at affordable costs for the recycling industry since 2007. A number of enterprises engaging in recycling of waste cooking oil, waste computer equipment, waste metals, waste plastics, waste wood, waste batteries, etc. have a presence in the EcoPark.

Development of Green Technology

Leveraging Hong Kong’s unique strengths in the global technology revolution, green technology is one of the five core technology clusters of the HKSTP. The HKSTP provides a full-range of facilities and equipment to support the development of green technology in areas of building energy efficiency, environmental solutions, alternative energy, waste disposal and recycling, electric vehicles, and green electronics for infrastructure projects and carbon audits.

Phase 3 of the Science Park completed construction in April 2016. This project was one of   the Government’s initiatives to boost the development of green technology in Hong Kong and to attract high-tech investment by private companies. It can accommodate about 150 green technology companies and create 4,000 research and development positions of green technology in the territory.

Another case in point is the Dunwell Enviro-Tech (Holdings) Ltd at the Yuen Long Industrial Estate which provides used oil and waste water treatment, recycling and reuse services. Dunwell turns waste lubricating oil into cost-effective finished oil using its patented vibrating membrane advanced treatment (VMAT) technology.

The ASB Biodiesel plant established in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate is a foreign investment project essentially funded by Bahrain and other Middle Eastern investors. It adopts Austrian technology to process waste oil, such as waste cooking oil and grease trap oil, with the capacity to produce 100,000 tons of low-carbon transport fuel per year.

Phase 1 of the OWTF project at Siu Ho Wan in North Lantau was completed and commissioned in July 2018. Using biological treatment technologies, this facility is expected to convert 200 tonnes of organic waste into biogas, compost and other useful resources daily.

The Government also provides funding supports to environmental technology-related R&D projects under the ITF managed by the Innovation and Technology Commission. Since its establishment, the ITF has approved around 80 projects in developing clean environmental technologies and processes applicable to Hong Kong, with the total funding amount exceeded HK$155 million.

Hong Kong-Guangdong Cross-boundary Cooperation

In April 2008, the Government launched a Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to encourage Hong Kong-invested enterprises in Guangdong to actively participate in improving the quality of the environment in the region. In light of the environmental benefits and positive feedback from industry, the Programme (as endorsed by the 20th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in March 2015) has been extended until 31 March 2020. Under the Programme, assistance is given to Hong Kong factories in the PRD to use cleaner production technologies and operation mode so that concerted efforts are made to create a cleaner environment. Efforts include:

  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Reduce air pollutants emission
  • Lower production cost
  • Reduce sewage discharge

Through cleaner production, Hong Kong-invested manufacturers can meet national and Guangdong province’s environmental protection standards, enhance their environmental performance, lower cost, increase competitiveness and improve their corporate image. This programme targets eight industries, namely chemical products, food and beverage, furniture, metal and metal products, non-metallic mineral products, paper making and paper products, printing and publishing, and textiles. Currently, more than 180 environmental technology service providers have registered with this programme, including service companies in Hong Kong and the PRD.

In April 2010, Hong Kong and Guangdong signed a “Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation”, and agreed to, among others, cooperate on environmental protection like:

  • Reducing pollutants: jointly exploring the reduction targets and options for total air pollutants emission in the PRD region in 2011-2020.

  • Cleaner production: help implement the “Cleaner Production Partnership Programme” to support Hong Kong-invested enterprises in Guangdong to conduct assessment, develop demonstration projects, provide certification services, etc. in order to improve energy efficiency and to reduce air pollution.

  • Electric cars: introducing electric cars to major greater PRD cities such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and jointly fostering research and development, manufacturing, general application and development of the relevant auto-parts industry for electric cars in the greater PRD region.

In June 2012, the Government jointly published the Regional Co-operation Plan on Building a Quality Living Area with Guangdong and Macau. The Plan covers long-term co-operation initiatives in five major areas, namely (1) environment and ecology, (2) low-carbon development, (3) culture and social living, (4) spatial planning and (5) green transportation systems, which aim to build a green and quality living area in the greater PRD region.

At the 22nd Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in February 2017, Hong Kong and Guangdong agreed to continue to take forward the air pollutant emission reduction work, conduct mid-term review on the emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020 and implement various emission reduction measures for the sake of continuously enhancing the living environment in the region.

CEPA Provisions

Since the implementation of the second supplement to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) in January 2006, all products of Hong Kong origin, including those related to environmental protection can be imported into the mainland at zero tariffs. Detailed information, as well as the origin rules for Hong Kong products, is available here.

On the other hand, Hong Kong service providers can set up wholly-owned enterprises on the mainland under CEPA to provide architectural design and engineering services etc., including those in relation to environmental system engineering services. When Hong Kong service providers set up construction engineering design enterprises in China, their track record in Hong Kong and on the mainland can be used by the authorities as the basis for assessing their application for enterprise qualification on the mainland.

Other arrangements between Hong Kong and Mainland China relating to the environmental industry under CEPA are as follows:

Supplement IV to CEPAStarting from 1 January 2008, Hong Kong service providers may set up wholly-owned enterprises on the mainland to provide the following environmental services (not including environment quality monitoring and pollution source inspection):
A.  Sewage services (CPC 9401)
B.  Refuse disposal services (CPC 9402)
C.  Cleaning services of exhaust gases (CPC 9404)
D.  Noise abatement services (CPC 9405)
E.  Nature and landscape protection services (CPC 9406)
F.  Other environmental protection services (CPC 9409)
G.  Sanitation and similar services (CPC 9403)
Supplement V to CEPAWith effect from 1 January 2009, the Guangdong province is permitted to approve the qualification of the Hong Kong service suppliers for setting up enterprises to operate environmental pollution control facilities in Guangdong.
Supplement IX to CEPAFrom 1 January 2013, Guangdong Province can approve Hong Kong service suppliers for undertaking entrusted environmental monitoring activities in Guangdong. These have greatly simplified the formalities involved in the application by Hong Kong service companies to mainland authorities for permission to provide environmental services in Guangdong.
Supplement X to CEPAFrom 1 January 2014, the substantive business engaged by Hong Kong service suppliers in the operation of environmental pollution control facilities in both Hong Kong and the mainland can be taken into account in assessing their applications for the qualification in the operation of environmental pollution control facilities in the mainland.
Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalization of Trade in Services in GuangdongFrom 1 March 2015, Hong Kong service providers can enjoy national treatment when providing the abovementioned services (items A to G) in Guangdong by way of commercial presence.
Agreement on Trade in ServicesFrom 1 June 2016, Hong Kong service providers can enjoy national treatment when providing environmental protection services listed in items A to G above on the mainland in the form of commercial presence.
Agreement on Economic and Technical CooperationHong Kong and the mainland further strengthen cooperation in the environmental industry, including facilitating exchange of information, cooperation in training, organizing trade exhibitions, seminars, etc.


Details of CEPA can be found here.

Content provided by Picture: Doris Fung
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