Islands District Council
- · By E-Mail to email@example.com
- · By Fax to (852) 2542 0183
- · By Telephone to (852) 2852 4325
- · By Mail to Islands District Council Secretariat, 20/F., Harbour Building, 38 Pier Road, Central, Hong Kong
Dear Sir, 24 July 2012
We refer to the meeting chaired (as shown below in the SCMP Lai See newspaper article) by Mr Randy Yu. We note Mr Yu is stated as the son-in-law of Mr Lau Wong Fat and his address details show the Hutchison House address of one of Mr Lau Wong Fat’s companies, Grand Gain Holdings Ltd. We note that Mr Lau has considerable property and real estate investments in the Tuen Mun area and opposed the siting of the proposed incinerator in Tsang Tsui. From the report of the meeting below it apparently seems Mr Yu thinks the idea of siting an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau was excellent, but later backtracked and deemed he had ‘no preconceived ideas’ seeing that the proceedings were being videotaped by an ethnic chinese person.
In the interests of clarity and impartiality I urge you to make the following information and attachments known to all Islands District Council members and at all and any subsequent meetings on this matter and that you make this information freely available to all Islands District Council area residents. Note the attached report from one of the persons attending the Singapore incinerator trip that was conducted only in English by their Government tour guides.
I would also ask that Mr Yu recuse himself from such further meetings since he has a seeming major conflict of interest in this matter, given his family ties to Mr Lau Wong Fat and his listed office location.
- · Burning passion for Shek Kwu Chau incinerator – till camera begins to roll
| LAI SEE
Howard Winn South China Morning Post
Jul 24, 2012
The previous government’s plans to build a super incinerator in the vicinity of the scenic island of Shek Kwu Chau, off Lantau, were put on hold by the Legislative Council some months ago. However, various forces still appear to be working away in the background to advance the cause.
We wrote some months ago about a heavily subsidised trip to Singapore for island residents and environmental groups. The point of the visit was to learn about Singapore’s approach to waste management, which, unsurprisingly, is heavily reliant on incineration. This was organised by a little-known group called the Hong Kong Islands District Association. Participants paid HK$1,000 for the trip, which would normally cost about HK$6,000. It was paid for out of two government funds set up for environmental projects.
Now we hear that a resident of south Lantau has accidentally discovered the association had held a meeting to discuss the incinerator. The meeting was poorly advertised – just an announcement on an A4 piece of paper on the notice board of the district council office. As a result of the lack of publicity, the meeting was thinly attended, by 30-odd insiders of rural committee members and families plus one environmentalist gatecrasher.
Interestingly, the session was chaired by Randy Yu, son-in-law of Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat. Yu is apparently destined to be a district councillor. He started by saying the government’s plan for an incinerator was excellent and that it was a pity the plan had been frozen. This was attributed to biased research conducted by expatriates that was then blindly accepted by locals. It should be noted that Yu’s father-in-law, Lau, opposed the other site suggested in one of the government’s studies – Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun.
The government is believed to have caved in to pressure from Lau not to put the facility in his fiefdom. The tone of the meeting was very much in support of building the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, until, that is, the environmentalist gatecrasher started videoing the proceedings. The tone then became remarkably neutral, we are told, with Yu repeatedly emphasising he had no preconceived ideas as to where the incinerator should be built. Lai See wonders what this all means.
|Mr YU Hon-kwan, Randy, JP http://www.districtcouncils.gov.hk/island/en/2012_2015/member_details.html
|District Council Services:
||Member, Islands District Council
Chairman, District Facilities Management Committee
Member, Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries and Environmental Hygiene Committee
Member, Community Affairs, Culture and Recreation Committee
Member, Traffic and Transport Committee
||Rm 619, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong
(Hutchison House address is the office location of Grand Gain Holdings Ltd (licensed money lenders) – owner Mr LAU Wong Fat)
Cancer fears threaten incinerator plan
Published on 22 July 2012
EXCLUSIVE by Rob Edwards Environment Editor
A SERIES of highly toxic emissions from Scotland’s newest waste incinerator in breach of safety limits are threatening to upset plans to build similar controversial plants across the country.
An energy-from-waste plant at Dargavel in Dumfries has had its operations restricted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) after it admitted releasing cancer-causing dioxins up to two-and-a-half times permitted levels into the air.
The company that runs the plant, Scotgen, is now facing difficulties obtaining a pollution permit for a second waste incinerator at Dovesdale Farm, near Stonehouse in South Lanarkshire. This proposal has prompted 24,000 objections from local residents and others concerned about the health risks.
Scotgen’s problems are also likely to hamper plans by other companies for another 14 incinerators across Scotland. Most of them have run into fierce opposition from local communities.
Scotgen’s Dumfries plant, commissioned in 2009 to “gasify” more than 20,000 tonnes of hazardous and municipal waste a year at high temperatures, has had a troubled history. Its pollution performance has been condemned as “very poor” by Sepa.
Before the plant was shut down in April 2011, it suffered some 200 breaches of emission limits, two of which were because of dioxins. According to Sepa, it also had 100 “short-term exceedances” and prompted 45 noise complaints.
Problems began again soon after the plant was restarted towards the end of March this year. On May 29, it emitted 0.25 nanograms of dioxins. The permitted limit is 0.1 nanograms.
Sepa ordered that the offending boiler be closed down while the breach was investigated. During trials in June there were a further two dioxin breaches. After further investigations, the plant was allowed to restart last week.
Dioxins are a group of highly dangerous and persistent pollutants produced by combustion. As well as triggering cancer, according to the World Health Organisation they can cause reproductive and developmental problems and damage the immune system.
Sepa told the Sunday Herald that it would not grant a pollution permit for Scotgen’s Dovesdale plant until it received “key information to demonstrate the viability of the technology” in Dumfries.
According to Sepa, Scotgen has also had financial difficulties. The company was sold just before its previous owners, Ascot Environmental, went into administration on May 18, 2012.
John Young, from the Action Group Against the Dovesdale Incinerator, urged Sepa to shut down Scotgen for good. “This company has a failed track record in protecting both the environment and public health,” he said.
Scotgen confirmed there had been dioxin breaches in Dumfries, but pointed out that Sepa had approved the restart of operations last week. “Scotgen is continuing to work closely with its regulator,” said the company’s director, Lloyd Brotherton.
Home | Macau | CUHK to start 10-year plan on Ka Ho residents’ health in Macau
CUHK to start 10-year plan on Ka Ho residents’ health (Macau)
The government has commissioned the Chinese University of Hong Kong for a 10-year study of health conditions of the residents in Ka Ho, where local people complained of illness due to the air pollution from ashes from the nearby incinerator. The Health Bureau said they had agreed with the university on the detailed procedures of the study to monitor the health conditions of residents in the area near Hac Sa. The University was quoted as saying details of the monitoring mechanism and study methodologies would be disclosed to the public next month. Preliminary arrangements require an annual report to be published, but the final conclusion will be ten years away. The Health Bureau said the study will be conducted scientifically, impartially and independently in a professional manner. The health issues were discovered early last year when hundreds of residents, many of them students and teachers in the schools there, complained of lung and respiratory problems after the contractor working the incinerator was found to have broken safety regulations by disposing of the ashes into open areas, and a large amount of them carried to residential districts by wind
IMPERIAL COLLEGE UK STUDY
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012 19:05
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘; ‘email@example.com‘
Cc: Andrew Tristem; ‘Frances Pollitt’; ‘Kelly, Frank’; Elliott, Paul
Subject: FW: Incinerator study
Dear Mr Middleton
Thank you for your enquiry on behalf of ‘Clear The Air’ in Hong Kong.
The English Health Protection Agency announced last week that they have approved funding for a Small Area Health Statistics Unit study to investigate whether there is any potential link between municipal waste incinerators and reproductive health – see
This is for a two year study starting in April 2012. Results will be made publicly available once accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
(Dr) Anna Hansell MB BChir MA MRCP MSc PhD FFPH
Clinical Senior Lecturer
Assistant Director, Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU)
MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
School of Public Health Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College London St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place LONDON W2 1PG
Phone: +44 (0)20 7594 3344
Fax: +44 (0)20 7594 0768
Small Area Health Statistics Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK
From: James Middleton [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 30 January 2012 09:43
To: Kelly, Frank; email@example.com
Subject: Incinerator study
Dear Prof Elliott,
We are an NGO Charity based in Hong Kong. Our website is www.cleartheair.org.hk Could you please tell us what is the status of your Unit’s investigation regarding possible incinerator
proximity dangers and when the study would likely be complete ?
Kind regards James Middleton Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrons: Professor Judith Mackay Professor Anthony Hedley
Inquiry is ordered into incinerators and health hazards they may pose
An investigation is to be launched – the first of its kind in this country – into whether incinerators present a risk to public health.
by Mark Metcalf
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
A team from Imperial College, London, has been commissioned to carry out the inquiry by the Health Protection Agency after fears were raised about the health risks of incinerators, particularly for young children.
Dozens of incinerators have been built around the country as Britain struggles to cope with its mounting refuse problems. But campaigners have become concerned that the price is being paid with poor health among babies and infants in the localities where such amenities are sited. One such activist is Michael Ryan, who lives in Shrewsbury, and who lost his only daughter at 14 weeks – and then suffered further personal tragedies when his teenage son and his mother both died, too. All lived downwind of an incinerator.
Mr Ryan began a painstaking piece of research into the subject of health – and deaths – of people living in close proximity to incinerators. The results from London are startling. In 12 of the capital’s 625 wards, there were no infant deaths between 2002 and 2008. But Southwark, which has two incinerators close by, had the highest rate with 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in that period.
Critics say it’s not microscopic particles from incinerators that kill babies and young children, but poverty. And while it is true that some people living close to incinerators are at the lower end of the social scale, Mr Ryan’s research reveals that death rates in more affluent middle class areas are higher if there is an incinerator nearby. Affluent Chingford Green ward in Waltham Forest has the second highest average number of child deaths in London. It happens to be close to Britain’s largest incinerator. “If it’s all about poverty, then how come the levels of infant mortality in countryside areas, where wages have always been below average, aren’t high?” asks Mr Ryan.
Now, to cries of “at last” from Mr Ryan, HPA head Justin McCracken has said that following discussions with Professor Paul Elliott, head of the Small Area Health Statistics Unit at Imperial College, it has been “concluded that an epidemiological study of birth outcomes around municipal waste incinerators would produce reliable results. Work is now progressing in developing a detailed proposal for what will be a complex study.”In 2004, a study in Japan found a “peak decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined”.
While other cities and counties struggle to reduce landfill waste through recycling programs, Detroit still burns its garbage — and the garbage of its neighbors — within blocks of residential neighborhoods. For the last 20 years, the Detroit Incinerator, also know as the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility, has cost the city an estimated 1.2 billion dollars, and continues to increase air pollution levels throughout the city. These pollution levels persistently exceed National Ambient Air Quality standards, and consequently contribute to the rising rates of asthma. Detroiters are three times as likely to be hospitalized for asthma compared to Michigan as a whole, and asthma death rates in Detroit are two times that for the state.
As the largest incinerator in the world, it is grossly over sized and imports garbage from nearby towns just so it can operate at design capacity. During the past several years of the City’s bond obligation for the incinerator, private haulers were charged as little as $13 per ton, while Detroit residents effectively paid $150 per ton or more. Since the Facility needed the trash to keep it burning, its served as a disincentive to recycling.
While the financial costs and health burdens remains high, Detroit continues to operate the incinerator and ignore the savings that recycling and recovery programs throughout the city would create.
Some claim the incinerator is an important feature to providing renewable energy to Detroit buildings because the burned municipal waste is converted to steam and sold to the steam loop owned by Detroit Renewable Energy. However, Detroit Thermal can, and has met all the current demands of their customers without the input from the incinerator.
Within the last five years the prospect of closing the incinerator has come close. In 2008 the City Council stated visions to adapt a new business model for Detroit solid waste and provided budget money to begin a curbside recycling program. The City’s financial obligation to the Facility ended in July 2009. In late 2010 new owners, Atlas Holdings/Detroit Renewable Energy, received a contract for burning the City’s municipal trash until 2011, but without any tonnage obligation.
Currently, organizations across Southeast Michigan are asking state legislators to create good policy to protect Detroiters. These policies include incentivizing recycling programs throughout the city and discontinue defining trash burning as a source of renewable energy. The benefits of recycling far outweigh the costs of incineration. Recycling saves natural resources, energy, landfill space and money, creates less air and water pollution, and decreases the risk of asthma related illnesses. Transitioning Detroit toward an intensive recycling program will not only save the city money, but improve the health of Detroiters as well.
|Green group complains about Yau’s Europe trip
| LAI SEE
Jul 18, 2012
Edward Yau Tang-wah, the former secretary for the environment who now heads the chief executive’s office, acquired some notoriety for doing little to improve the environment, but in the 60 months he was in the job managed to squeeze in some 59 overseas trips.
One trip has attracted critical attention from Clear the Air chairman Jim Middleton, who has filed a complaint with the Director of Audit. In April, Yau led a motley group of 20 on a trip to Sweden, Denmark, then on to Britain to visit London, Cambridge and Scotland.
The trip, according to the government, aimed “to exchange experience on the development and promotion of green technologies, identify opportunities for co-operation on various green initiatives, and promote the market for green technological and innovative solutions in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region.”
Eight of the participants were from environmental firms, there were six academics, three from the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, and two from the Hong Kong Productivity Council. Of the academics, one was a professor of internal medicine, and another of chemistry. The Productivity Council sent two IT specialists.
Most on the trip were from government-funded groups which forked out a minimum of HK$44,000 per head for the trip. Middleton is not convinced of the efficacy of the trip or of the participants. He was particularly critical of the visit to Denmark, noting it was behind Hong Kong in terms of recycling, and recently realised it was exceeding its carbon dioxide goals under the Kyoto Protocol. The main reason for this was its widespread incineration of municipal waste. “What has Hong Kong gained from this trip?” he asks
From: James Middleton [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 07 July, 2012 20:47
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘; email@example.com; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘; ‘“TAM Yiu-chung”’; ‘garychk’; ‘email@example.com‘
Subject: ‘ Greentech ‘ Europe jaunt members
Subject: Greentech Europe jaunt members
So look at the number of participants from the Taipo Science Park who went for the jolly to Europe in April.
And then of course the freebies from HK Productivity Council (specialty IT) and a professor of medicine from CUHK , lifetime students from Kadoorie Institute etc
What did this trip achieve for the HK Environment ? how do we benefit ? Please ask the question in Legco.
Why are a professor of internal medicine, HKG Productivity Council (lack of productivity IT people) and an HKBU chemistry professor travelling on a so-called environmental ‘Greentech’ trip looking at incinerators and a Scottish whiskey distillery? They looked at hybrid buses in UK – so who actually buys the buses here ? KMB and Citybus and New World First Bus should be compelled to get them by mandating Clean Air Zones in our worst roadside pollution areas, but Edward Yau already signed weakened new franchises with them.
How many foreign companies have signed up for space at the Taipo Science Park as a result of this trip ?
Directly (Yau Tang Wah) or indirectly the money funding these people’s Europe jaunt came from taxpayers.
Diabolical waste of our Government funds with no apparent return.
From: James Middleton [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 16 July, 2012 14:17
Subject: : Burning sensation – did Edward Yau bring back this message with him from his ‘Greentech’ trip and Scottish distillery visit ? what a waste of public money
From: James Middleton [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 12 July, 2012 23:06
To: ‘Kitto Kan’; Howard Winn; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘email@example.com‘; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘
Subject: : Burning sensation – did Edward Yau bring back this message with him from his ‘Greentech’ trip and Scottish distillery visit ? what a waste of public money
Clear the Air says:
So our former Environment Minister Edward Yau and his ‘Greentech’ hangers-on for a free Europe jaunt at public expense visited Denmark to learn about their ‘advanced’ waste treatment bonfire.
In fact Denmark is way behind Hong Kong in recycling, percentage wise, they have just realised their incinerators are causing irreparable CO2 climate damage (let alone the other noxious emissions), they do not have enough waste to burn so have to import it to keep their incinerators running – and our ‘Greentech’ mission went there to learn something, or for det kolde bord(smorgasbord)?
Read on and be amazed …………………
SEN and green tech mission start visit to Denmark (with photos)
The Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, and a green tech mission from Hong Kong started their visit to Denmark in Copenhagen today (April 25, Copenhagen time). While in Copenhagen they will take a look at the city’s advanced waste treatment technology and explore possibilities for co-operation in green business. The mission first visited Amagerforbrænding, which runs Copenhagen’s largest incineration plant. They toured its recycling station and the incineration plant to learn more about the city’s waste treatment facilities and technology for generating energy from waste.
THE COPENHAGEN POST
Still adjusting | The great green swindle
Justin Cremer http://cphpost.dk/commentary/cph-post-voices/still-adjusting-great-green-swindle
April 7, 2012 – 07:37
A proud native of the American state of Iowa, Justin Cremer has been living in Copenhagen since June 2010. In addition to working at the CPH Post, he balances fatherhood, struggling with the Danish language and keeping up with the ever-changing immigration rules.
Just days after Denmark put through its much-heralded energy plan, resulting in plenty of back-slapping among politicians and more than a fair amount of praise in the international press, Eurostat figures revealed that theaverage Dane produced 673 kilos of garbage in 2010, putting Denmark behind only Cyprus and Luxembourg when it comes to trash. The figures also revealed that a mere 23 percent of Danish household trash is recycled, about half as much as the Germans.
These numbers were not in the least bit surprising. Ever since my first visit to Denmark, I was struck by how hard it was to recycle, particularly plastic. I was so accustomed to recycling my plastic one gallon milk containers (that’s roughly 3.8 litres, my European friends) that I found it incredulous that milk here came in cardboard packages destined for the trash. Though, to be fair, I found it even more unbelievable that the said containers only hold one litre of milk, meaning a lifetime of going to the store every second day.
Like most of the outside world, I came here having bought into the notion that Denmark was a green paradise. Why then, was I throwing things in the trash that back home were recycled? “Bare rolig du,” I was told. In Denmark, everything is burnt and the energy is then used to heat homes. It’s a beautiful system, can’t you see that?
Actually, no. A study by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) last year revealed that Denmark’s carbon dioxide emissions were double what was originally thought and the nation was exceeding the carbon dioxide goals under the Kyoto Protocol. The culprit? That same rubbish incineration programme that had been praised to the heavens.
But, but, but, it’s not the incineration that’s the problem, experts argued. It’s that too much plastic gets burnt – that same plastic that is incredibly inconvenient to recycle.
Being a good, environmentally-conscious world citizen, I tried to do my small part. For months, I had been dutifully separating my plastic and cardboard, placing them in the requisite clear plastic sacks, and storing them in the shed until the infrequent storskrald (big trash) pick-up days.
Only when my wife happened to be outside on pick-up day and struck up a conversation with one of the collectors, did I come to realise that all of that was just burnt anyway. Yes, my plastic that had been rinsed and separated, my cardboard that had been neatly bundled. Burnt. All of it. In incineration plants that, according to DTU’s numbers, produce some 700,000 more tonnes of carbon dioxide than previously thought.
Rather ironically, with the amount of emissions this incorrectly-labelled ‘green’ solution pumps into the atmosphere, there sure are some particular rules about it. Just last week, the collectors refused to take my trash because there was loose kitty litter inside. Gosh, did I feel terrible that I hadn’t put it in an extra unnecessary plastic sack to put within the larger sack so that it all could be burnt and added to the air pollution. My bad, y’all.
Hopefully, though, the attitudes towards incineration and recycling are beginning to change. A year-long pilot programme in Amager revealed last summer that up to 30 percent of the household rubbish currently being burned is recyclable or unfit for burning. Based on that programme, Copenhagen’s technical and environmental department, Teknik- og Miljøforvaltningen (TMF), announced a new sortable recycling programme that it expects will reduce carbon emissions by 1,400 tonnes per year. The programme was due to begin this month, but a call to TMF last week revealed that it had been pushed back to sometime in the autumn.
Denmark has done an amazing job of presenting itself as an environmental leader. The strategy seems to be that if you dot your countryside and shorelines with enough wind turbines, you’ll convince the world that you’re ‘green’. Largely, it’s worked. And with the newly-announced plan to wean Denmark off fossil fuels by 2050, the country will continue to be perceived as on the cutting edge of green technology. But when residents can’t conveniently recycle in their homes and instead pile up obscene amounts of trash that, once incinerated, produce an emissions-laden carbon bomb, it gives a whole new meaning to the line so proudly displayed on DSB’s trains: “It’s not a question of green, but how green.” And just how green can a country be when in the year 2012 it still hasn’t fully embraced recycling?
THE COPENHAGEN POST
Incinerators: better than landfills, but a recycling loser
Erica Cooperberg http://cphpost.dk/news/local/incinerators-better-landfills-recycling-loser
July 8, 2012 – 08:00
Burning rubbish provides energy for households, but also comes with a price: it makes people complacent about their trash disposal
Plans to build a new futuristic incinerator – complete with ski slope – were just too grand for the city
For the five and a half million individuals residing in Denmark, waste is a perpetual problem, but it is not one that is being ignored. However, depending on who you ask, the nation’s chosen disposal method – incineration – is either an ‘environmentally-friendly’ end station, or just a step in the right direction.
While 42 percent of Danish waste is recycled, according to official statistics, the majority, 54 percent, is burned in a process that converts waste into new forms of useful energy. In Denmark’s case, that means that instead of being sent to landfills, rubbish is burned to produce heat and electricity at what are known as waste-to-energy plants.
Amagerforbrænding, Denmark’s second-largest waste company, handles approximately ten percent of the country’s waste. That trash either winds up at one of 12 recycling stations or at its waste-to-energy plant inAmager.
Jonas Nedenskov, an engineer with Amagerforbrænding, explained that the plant incinerates over 400,000 tonnes of waste per year, which is converted into “climate-friendly energy” that supplies 120,000 households with heat in the form of forced hot water and 50,000 households with electricity.
But Amagerforbrænding isn’t just burning waste; recycling is a large part of the company’s environmental efforts, and some 85 percent of the waste received at the recycling stations can be reused.
Amagerforbrænding hopes it can encourage people to recycle more. “Our task is to ensure that the collection and sorting of the many different plastics is as easy as possible,” Nedenskov said. Its latest initiative, to promote plastic recycling, is being carried out in co-operation with the city of Copenhagen.
Although incineration is a more environmentally-friendly process than landfilling, critics say it isn’t as green as its supporters make it out to be.
The process includes the emission of unhealthy toxins into the air, which is a concern to employees, the community directly surrounding the plant and the greater community.
Amagerforbrænding, according to Nedenskov, seeks to minimise the amount of toxins it releases by filtering its emissions to satisfy air quality requirements put out by environment agency Miljøstyrelsen.
But while emissions can be scrubbed, incineration’s other by-product is more difficult to deal with. After trash is burned, the leftover slag, made up mostly of metal, is unusable for anything other than road-building, contended Christian Poll of nature conservation society DN.
Essentially, the incinerators just “transform waste into concentrated material”, Poll said. “Those supporting incineration often forget to tell that story.”
While Poll agreed that incineration is “much better than landfilling, like we used 20 years ago”, Denmark should instead encourage people first and foremost to reduce the amount of waste they produce, reuse what they can, and then to recycle as much of the rest as possible.
A dispute between Amagerforbrænding and CONCITO, an environmental policy think-tank, surrounds this issue – Amagerforbrænding wishes to build a new incineration facility, while CONCITO argues that it is not entirely necessary.
While it does not support the current building proposals for the facility, CONCITO does back the facility’s overall expansion.
“We want the incinerator to be small so there’s room to make the change to recycling,” Poll said. “If it has a smaller capacity, there will be real incentives to generate less waste for incineration.”
Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), said a compromise needs to be reached on the size of any new incinerators built in Amager. The city refused to back a loan guarantee to build two new furnaces, each capable of handling 35 tonnes of waste per hour.
“We don’t need the incinerators to be so large, because the amount of trash generated in Copenhagen is expected to fall by 20 percent in the coming years,” Baykal told Politiken newspaper.
Baykal declined to say what compromises the city hopes to make, but Mogens Lømborg of Amagerforbrænding told Politiken that the larger ovens would be more cost-effective in the long-run.
Currently, CONCITO is waiting to hear back from the board of Amagerforbrænding with what it hopes will be plans to include more recycling facilities.
Looking towards the future, Poll said there was reason to expect Copenhagen would continue to recycle more and incinerate less. Calling the migration from landfilling to incineration a “good step”, he said continued progress would take effort. “Everything is possible; you just have to want it.”
Not enough rubbish to go around
July 22, 2011 – 12:00
Councils scramble for foreign rubbish to fuel nation’s waste-to-energy incinerators
They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In Denmark, one man’s waste is another man’s warmth – and there isn’t enough of it to go around.
Denmark leads most EU countries in municipal waste incineration for energy and heating. The country’s state-of-the-art incineration plants convert burnable household waste into the energy that heats up people’s homes, while filtering out a high percentage of the poisons and preventing 95 percent of all waste from ending up in a landfill.
Because of the popularity of this model, however, a number of communities are having trouble getting their hands on enough rubbish to feed the furnaces – and that is pressing more and more councils to import burnable foreign waste.
Three months ago, Nykøbing Falster in southern Zealand became the first Danish council to begin importing German garbage for incineration as it was not getting sufficient burnable rubbish from Zealand itself to run its incinerators efficiently.
The problem is even bigger in more rural areas, including much of Jutland, where concentrations of people are not large enough to produce enough waste to run the incineration plants. Several Jutland plants therefore plan to begin importing rubbish from Great Britain to make up for chronic garbage shortages.
Yet despite the shortage of homegrown burnable waste, thirteen Jutland councils are now weighing the possibility of building a new mega-sized incineration plant in Kjellerup, between Viborg and Silkeborg.
To run the new waste-to-energy plant thousands of truckloads of foreign rubbish may have to be imported from Germany and Great Britain. That has led critics to question the intelligence of the project.
“What’s about to happen is socio-economically stupid,” Palle Mang, managing director for Nomi, a waste management company in Holstebro, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “For a start, there’s not enough rubbish to ensure a sufficient supply for the incineration plants that already exist. If the plant in Kjellerup is built, we will come up short another 190,000 tonnes [of rubbish].”
Nomi is currently sourcing 4,000 tonnes of rubbish each month from outside the council just to keep its smaller incineration facility running.
But Flemming Christensen, managing director of the council-owned waste management company behind the Kjellerup project, says that is just fine.
“I don’t see any problem with importing rubbish. It’s a really good idea to use rubbish for fuel. In that way we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help our neighbouring countries at the same time,” he said.
But the quality of the rubbish that is imported – as well as the distance and means by which it travels to get to the incinerator – will also have a big impact on whether carbon dioxide emissions are reduced or raised.
A recent study from the Technical University of Denmark revealed that high plastic levels in Danish household waste are the culprit for much higher carbon dioxide emissions from incineration practices than previously estimated.
The 13 councils are scheduled to meet about the proposed mega-incinerator project on September 1
Denmark’s carbon bomb
April 8, 2011 – 09:00
Due to high levels of plastic incineration, carbon dioxide emissions are double the old estimate
A new study from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) indicates that Denmark’s carbon dioxide emissions are double the previous calculation and have probably been so for years.
Accordingly, Denmark is exceeding its carbon dioxide goals under the Kyoto Protocol.
Widespread municipal rubbish incineration – the same waste-to-energy system that has been touted internationally as a model for clean energy resourcefulness – is the main culprit.
The incineration itself is not necessarily the problem. It is just that there is too much plastic in our trash, say experts.
The new findings come from a current study on the composition of the nation’s household rubbish, by DTU associate professor Thomas Astrup. He found that the actual amount of ‘fossil content’ – plastics, in other words – in rubbish that is being incinerated is twice what authorities were estimating.
Although the study’s final results will not be ready until summer, the preliminary data was strong enough to convince the National Environmental Research Institute (DMU) to begin revising its annual report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which monitors whether countries are meeting their Kyoto Protocol commitments.
Based on the new carbon dioxide calculations from the DTU, Denmark is not.
“Our preliminary research shows that our emissions are in the range of 32.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide per gigajoule – which is twice as much as the 17.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide per gigajoule we used to think we were putting out from incinerators,” Astrup told science website videnskab.dk.
Some 700,000 tons more carbon dioxide escape into the atmosphere every year than previously thought, according to his computer models.
Denmark burns approximately half of all its household rubbish at incinerator plants that convert rubbish into energy for residential electricity and heat. Widespread municipal rubbish incineration means that just five percent of Danish rubbish gets buried in landfills. But it also means that we emit extra carbon dioxide.
“Carbon dioxide emissions were probably higher in previous years also. We just didn’t know,” Astrup told The Copenhagen Post.
According to a DMU report from 2010 – before the new data – the average Dane is responsible for releasing two and a half times more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the average world citizen. That number could be much higher when new calculations are taken into account.
Double the plastic in household rubbish means double the carbon dioxide emissions, when that rubbish gets incinerated.
“In Denmark we often sort less and incinerate more than other countries,” Astrup said. “But it makes sense, because we have a very developed district heating system that is very efficient at turning it into energy. This makes Denmark somewhat different from most other countries.”
There is a misconception that state-of-the-art incineration plants reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But that is not the case. They filter out dioxins and other poisons that might otherwise escape into the air, and if they are highly efficient, as in Denmark, they provide more energy from less rubbish.
The key to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the rubbish that is burned is making sure that there is less fossil content in it.
“The carbon dioxide coming from waste incinerators depends upon the waste composition and not the technology or efficiency of the plant,” said Astrup.
Separating and recycling more plastics from household rubbish would seem to be the answer, but Astrup warns that is not necessarily the ‘greenest’ solution:
“Burning the plastic in highly efficient Danish incinerators generates energy that we then do not need to produce at power plants using coal and gas. This saves carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere.”
“If the plastic can be sorted out in clean fractions and recycled properly to make new plastic, then it’s a good idea. But if it’s not clean, it can only be recycled into secondary materials, which saves less new plastic and less carbon dioxide emissions. Then it is better to incinerate the plastic in Denmark at high efficiency,” he added.
Email Sent: 25 May, 2012 15:25
To: Hong Kong Islands District Association
I refer to your intended mal-advised, heavily subvented, public money funded trip to view incinerators in Singapore.
I attach herewith a self-explanatory report by Singaporean experts on waste handling in Singapore.
We trust you can pass this report to ALL the persons intending to travel to Singapore before they actually travel so they can assimilate the local knowledge therein.
I would suggest they also then meet with the two authors of the report.
Download PDF : SingaporeExpertreport (2)
Download PDF : Untitled attachment 00711 (2)