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November 8th, 2012:

From food waste into treasure*Overset by 10.*

HK Standard

The new administration is clearly working hard on the processing of food waste because such efforts are necessary as Hong Kong’s landfills are nearly full.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The new administration is clearly working hard on the processing of food waste because such efforts are necessary as Hong Kong’s landfills are nearly full.

To win the blessing of environmental groups to open new landfills, the government must be seen to have done a good job in energy conservation and waste reduction.

Food waste is not a problem unique to Hong Kong – it is also a headache for other metropolises such as Guangzhou, where plans to build garbage incinerators were shelved amid strong objections from residents.

The Guangdong capital, therefore, decided to take the alternative route of engaging specialists from Shanghai to introduce measures to better handle organic waste.

In the past couple of years, Guangzhou has started the practice of separating dry and wet household refuse, and raised subsidies for the establishment of food-waste processing plants.

Food waste is thus recycled into compost used in growing organic vegetables – a practice promoted by the city government.

Guangzhou targets creating an environmental industrial chain this way, which of course requires a period of investment.

In Hong Kong, the government has floated the idea of a recycling plant for food waste to relieve the pressure on landfills, after its proposal to expand the current site at Tseung Kwan O was vetoed.

To properly handle food waste, corresponding facilities must be set up at restaurants and residential buildings, while measures are implemented to ensure hygiene during transportation.

Substantial setup expenses can be expected, and it is unknown at this stage when the SAR will be ready to roll out such a program on a full scale.

As mainlanders are also fighting against the siting of obnoxious facilities in their neighborhoods, local governments are developing waste-processing industries instead.

With the encouragement of corresponding policies, many private enterprises are venturing into this new business, hence its rapid growth.

These companies might even come to Hong Kong to “treasure hunt” soon. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily

Basel changes ‘could burden’ exporters

Exporters of recovered materials from households could be subject to strict environmental requirements equal to those for hazardous wastes under proposed changes to the Basel Convention, the Bureau of International Recycling has warned.

The BIR’s environmental and technical director, Ross Bartley, told delegates at a meeting of the organisation’s International Environment Council in Barcelona last month that work is ongoing to update the Convention, which was established in 1989 by the UN to regulate the movements of hazardous wastes.

Ross Bartley, environmental and technical director, BIR

Ross Bartley, environmental and technical director, BIR

Mr Bartley is an observer to the UN’s Technical Expert Group, which has met twice to discuss the development of a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste, and is due to meet for a third time in January 2013, where final proposals are set to be agreed.

The framework will add a number of additional requirements for the export of hazardous waste which would apply to waste generators, waste carriers and operators of waste management facilities.

These include measures that would see facilities having to comply with strict emission limit values, tougher waste acceptance and handling criteria and having to undergo stringent environmental and social impact studies.


However, in its current state, the Convention also covers waste collected from households and residues arising from the incineration of household wastes, and according to Mr Bartley, there is a danger that these types of waste could be caught up in requirements which are only necessary for hazardous waste treatment.

He explained that when the Convention was originally drafted, it was rare for waste to be segregated into different material streams and it was necessary for the regulations to apply to household waste to prevent it from being dumped overseas.

He said: “That was 30 years ago, and now those are being separated at source, and you are getting individual materials that do not need to be controlled in the same way. There is then a dilemma about how you describe what the Convention covers, as these are clearly not hazardous wastes.”


Currently, there is no exemption in the Framework which excludes separated materials from household waste from the requirements, but Mr Bartley has lobbied to have a footnote added which would do so. However, he added that it was still not clear if this would be included in the final draft, and that some parties had opposed the changes.

He also commented that the requirements would add additional burdens for the treatment of household waste and that it could become ‘more difficult’ for exporters and handlers of waste attempting to transport material for recycling.

He added: “The burdens are according to what waste is covered and currently the Basel Convention does not have these requirements that are going to be put on governments, waste carriers and waste management facilities.

Related Links

Bureau of International Recycling

Basel Convention

“The footnote becomes quite important in that way, as otherwise the requirements would cover a plant that is recycling PET bottles for example. If you have got someone handling mercury waste you can see that there is a need, but the requirements would have to be very different for household waste.”

Common sense in Hong Kong’s Clochemerle moment

Submitted by admin on Nov 8th 2012, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Will the incinerator re-emerge?

Australia’s Northern Territory government has shut down its quarantine incineration facility at East Arm Wharf in Darwin because of pollution concerns, ABC News reports. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) says there has been a continuing problem with the incinerator ever since it was set up six years ago.

Transport Minister Adam Giles says the government decided to shut the facility because it failed to meet new environmental standards. EPA chairman Bill Freeland says the incinerator was found to be emitting dioxins into the surrounding soil.

The incinerator was set up in 2006 to treat waste from commercial shipping and international flights. We hear the Hong Kong government has abandoned plans to build a monster HK$23 billion incinerator – or waste management facility as it prefers to call it – in the scenic environs of the island of Shek Kwu Chau off South Lantau.

However, the project’s official status is that it has been shelved, so there is still the possibility it will re-emerge. It was, after all, carefully nurtured by the previous secretary of the environment, Edward Yau Tang-wah, during Donald Tsang’s administration.

After his stellar career in this capacity he now rejoices in the title of Director of Office of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, where hopefully environmental policy is spared his attentions.

Bursting population bubbles

Interesting to see the government’s appointment of 11 non-official members to the Steering Committee on Population Policy.

According to the government’s announcement: “The committee will identify the main social, economic, and policy challenges which require further study regarding changes to Hong Kong’s population profile in the next 30 years. It will recommend strategies and practical measures for pursuing the objectives of Hong Kong’s population policy, and advise on the priority of these measures.”

This is presumably a polite way of saying it wants to bring some sense to the ludicrous population assumptions that have been underpinning government infrastructure projects.

Readers will recall that the Census and Statistics Department recently lowered its projected population from 8.89 million to 8.47 million for 2041 – a 26 per cent decline – and justified it by using C.Y. Leung’s decision to ban mainland women without local partners from giving birth at local hospitals from next year.

But the government population projections have been way out of line for years, rather like John Tsang’s budget surplus projections. The latest forecast for this year is a population of 7.13 million and we are not expected to reach 8.3 million until 2036.

The Transport Department needs to pay attention to this since the “Third Comprehensive Transport Study” still appears to be using a forecast of 8.9 million to 10 million for 1997-2016. The closest we can get to this is 2041 when Hong Kong is forecast to have a population of 8.5 million.

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Illegal structures

Buildings Department

Environmental Protection Authority


Steering Committee on Population Policy

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