Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

March 2nd, 2008:

Bio-diesel Plant To Recycle Used Cooking Oil

Liz Heron – Mar 02, 2008

A bio-diesel plant that will recycle waste cooking oil from restaurants is to be built in Hong Kong by a Bahrain-based bank.

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain has set up a joint-venture company, ASB Bio-diesel (Hong Kong), with six partners to build and run the plant at Tseung Kwan O industrial estate.

Negotiations with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks on a 40-year lease for a HK$42.3 million waterfront site are expected to be clinched within days.

The plant – the second of its kind in Hong Kong – will produce up to 100,000 tonnes of bio-diesel per year for sale in Hong Kong and Europe. Dynamic Progress International opened a bio-diesel plant in Tuen Mun last year.

Bank chief executive Yousif Taqi said the plant would mainly use cooking oil, waste animal fat and grease-trap waste. This set it apart from the production of bio-diesel from edible vegetable oils, which has caused growing concern over destruction of tropical rainforests.

“This is an innovative investment,” he said. “It illustrates our bank’s strategy to meet clients’ expectations for attractive investment opportunities that are differentiated by sector and geography, and to ensure competitive returns to our shareholders.

“It also underlines our commitment to identify projects that have the potential to add value to the community and positively impact the environment.”

Mr Taqi said the project would have three environmental benefits: reducing harmful vehicle emissions and global warming through the use of bio-diesel; using materials that would otherwise go to landfills; and addressing the destruction of rainforests – felled to make way for vast oil-palm plantations grown to produce biofuels.

Bio-diesel is not subject to the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance because it is not based on hydrocarbons, and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen pledged in his October policy address to introduce a duty-free policy on its use.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said: “We are drawing up a specification for the use of bio-diesel as motor- vehicle fuel. Our plan is to introduce a statutory specification on January 1, 2009. [After that date], bio-diesel offered for sale here will have to comply with the specification.”

The department also plans to require that all conventional diesel sold in Hong Kong meet the Euro V standard, which allows 80 per cent less sulfur than Euro IV diesel, by the same date.

Patrick Siu, senior development manager with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, said completion of the deal with the joint venture on the 18,000 square metre site was expected within “a day or two”.

“In Europe, they are increasing the percentage of bio-diesel in diesel oil and together with escalating petroleum prices, it’s quite an active area for business,” he said.

“We have quite a few firms showing interest in setting up bio-diesel plants at Tseung Kwan O.”

Christian Masset, chairman of green group Clear the Air, said: “If this plant uses exclusively Hong Kong-produced waste, this is a win-win situation. The waste will not end up in the Hong Kong environment and we will reduce noxious emissions from vehicles. But we will be watching the plant closely to see whether it lives up to expectations.”

Health Of Athletes In Hong Kong

A letter sent to the Sunday Morning Post from Anthony J Hedley, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong

The Editor

Sunday Morning Post

Dear Sir

False analysis of threat from air pollution

The majority of your readers’ letters on air pollution have been balanced and informed pleas for urgent intervention to protect environmental health. However Mitch Geall appears to want to want to trivialise this problem with misleading statements about pollution impacts on the health of athletes in Hong Kong (Sunday Post March 2).

Geall enjoyed his road running in extremely clean air in Australia between 1982-92,an opportunity denied to generations of runners in Hong Kong where average pollution levels are several hundred percent above those in any Australian city.

His attempts to make a trade-off between Hong Kong’s 2008 pollution and levels in Los Angeles in 1984 is pointless and cynical.At the 1984 Olympics there was considerable concern about air quality and incidentally during those games the 1980 British Olympic 800 meters champion Steve Ovett was admitted to hospital with severe inflammation of the lungs.

To argue that New York’s air pollution is anywhere near the sustained level in Hong Kong is simply nonsense.

Geall compounds his flawed analysis by saying “It’s only the one run after all”.

I suggest the dictum “First do no harm” must apply to any sports event for young people,including the year long preparation which runners here engage in for this endurance event while breathing filthy air.

Let’s hear the organisers and supporters of the Hong Kong marathon demand that the Chief Executive acts immediately to curb this environmental threat before further damage is done to athletes’ health and the image of Hong Kong, including its international marathon.

Anthony J Hedley
School of Public Health
University of Hong Kong

Britain’s Athletes To Wear Air Filters At China’s Olympics

EXCLUSIVE Britain’s athletes to wear air filters at China’s smog-filled Olympics

By Nick Owens With Dick Jones Nick.Owens@Sundaymirror.Co.Uk 2/03/2008 Sunday Mirror UK

British athletes are to wear face masks at the China Olympics to protect them from Beijing’s smog.

Under Olympic rules they will have to remove them before their event begins – but they will be allowed to use them during warm-ups.

And the British Olympic Association is now trying to get officials to allow its athletes to wear the special air filters during heats.

Beijing has the world’s most toxic air – 12 times the “safe” level set by the World Health Organisation.

A source said: “There is a concern among British athletes about the terrible air in Beijing. The International Association of Athletics Federations have the final say on whether they can be worn once events start. If the rule is changed many British athletes will be keeping them on.”

The masks have been designed with the help of experts at the University of Exeter and have a mouthpiece allowing athletes to breathe in through a filter.

Britain’s best hope, marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, road-tested the mask during a training camp in South Africa. It has also been tried out by our 5,000-metre hopeful Mo Farah.

The move comes after all Britain’s track and field athletes refused to train in the Chinese capital.

To avoid the smog, they have set up training camps in Macau, close to Hong Kong. Our swimmers followed suit by training in Osaka, Japan.

The only athletes who have tried to train in Beijing are the US boxing team. But they found they could only jog outside for 30 minutes at a time. They had to train in their hotel while a new camp was found outside Beijing.

Coach Frank Filberto said: “They were coughing, wheezing and couldn’t breathe. Boxers are probably the fittest athletes in the world, which sends out a clear message about the scale of the problem.”

Duncan McFarlane, sports professor at Hong Kong University, said: “I am not sure wearing masks will help.

“It will be uncomfortable and the athletes will really struggle to get enough clean air for them to be able to perform at their best.”

The Chinese government has set up a website to report daily pollution levels.

Information is fed on to it from eight air-monitoring machines situated across Beijing.

Last week they announced the monitors showed air quality had improved in the capital.

But environmental campaigner Steven Andrews says the figures are distorted because the monitors have been moved to less-polluted areas of the city.

He said: “The reality is there has been a huge cover-up going on. Athletes really won’t know the full extent of the pollution problem.”

China has the top 16 most polluted cities in the world. An astonishing 750,000 people a year die from illnesses related to breathing in its foul, fume-filled air.

China is the world’s second biggest producer of carbon dioxide – contributing 16 per cent of total emissions. The only country producing more is the US.

The country burns more than two billion tonnes of “dirty” coal a year for cooking and heating, creating toxic clouds of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

More than 2,000 new cars take to the roads of Beijing EVERY DAY. But last year 1.2m old ones were ordered OFF the road due to high emission levels.