Hong Kong Is Almost Completely Trashed

City says its landfills will be totally full in next few years
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2017 5:36 PM CDT
Updated Jul 20, 2017 2:03 AM CDT
Hong Kong Is Almost Completely Trashed
Trucks deliver trash to a Hong Kong landfill in 2008. The city's government says its landfills will be completely full in the next few years.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong's 7.4 million denizens create a lot of trash—15,000 tons of garbage are disposed of every day. But at only 427 square miles, the city is quickly running out of space to put all that garbage. In a close look at a smelly subject, Motherboard dives into what happens in "a world-class city with nowhere left to put its own trash." Hong Kong has three operational landfills taking up 560 acres of land—and all of them are nearly full. Despite compacting the trash—a process that sends highly toxic garbage water seeping into the city's groundwater—the Hong Kong government estimates all three landfills will be completely full sometime in the next few years. And with land in Hong Kong at a premium, there really aren't many options for expanding the landfills or creating new ones.

To deal with the problem, the Hong Kong government has proposed a number of "radically unsustainable" solutions. For example, it spent $2.4 billion on an incinerator to burn 3,000 tons of garbage per day by 2025—polluting the city's air in the process. The head of one environmental nonprofit wonders why that money wasn't spent on a recycling center. Hong Kong has no full-scale recycling plants and isn't big on environmental awareness generally. ("Many beaches look more like ... garbage dumps than the tropical paradises they once were," Motherboard states.) A government spokesperson says Hong Kong's landfills will only be used as a "last resort" in the future, but it's unclear how the city will get to that point. Read the full story here. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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