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January 2nd, 2013:

Trash Incinerator “Part Of The Past”


Words by Paul Fontaine

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The Minister for the Environment believes that the trash incinerator in Kirkjubæjarklaustur is a part of the past, and has recommended that it be shut down.

As reported, incinerators in the West Fjörds, the Westman Islands and in Kirkjubæjarklaustur have been shown to be emitting dioxin, a highly toxic chemical that was at one time used to make the notorious herbicide Agent Orange. The matter was first brought to light when dairy producers in the northwest detected unusually high amounts of dioxin in milk.

Traces of the toxin, albeit far below dangerous levels, were also found to be in some meat originating in south Iceland. The Ministry for the Environment called for an investigation into the matter, conducting inspections on all the facilities.

RÚV now reports that a committee assembled by the ministry has come to the conclusion that the incinerator in Kirkjubæjarklaustur is not up to code. Speaking to the press, Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir told reporters that “according to the conclusions of the ministry, this age of incinerators is over.”

However, the municipality of Kirkjubæjarklaustur has until January 11 to raise objections to the decision. Until that time, said the minister, she cannot give a more detailed statement than this on the matter.

A food recycling scheme uses discarded vegetables from a wet market to cook food for the unemployed

2 January 2013 Last updated at 22:00 GMT

Banquet-loving Hong Kong grapples with mountain of food waste

By Katie Hunt Business reporter, BBC News, Hong Kong

Food stall in Hong Kong

A food recycling scheme uses discarded vegetables from a wet market to cook food for the unemployed

It is dusk at Hong Kong’s Tai Wo wet market and the stallholders are shutting up shop, separating browning bean sprouts and bruised oranges from the fruit and vegetables fresh enough to be sold the next day.

Unlike the waste from most of the city’s fresh produce markets, which is dumped in one of three fast-filling landfills, the leftovers from this one are collected by a local food-recycling scheme.

Run by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, it uses the discarded vegetables to cook meals for the unemployed. The rest is sent to local farms to be composted.

“We usually collect around 180kg, and around 70% is edible,” says Christina Jang, who works for the project in Tai Wo, near Hong Kong’s border with China.

“That can feed 60 people.”

Buffets and banquets

The metal carts are being pushed by a group of teenagers from a local secondary school.

Equipped with white-cloth gloves, they giggle and squirm as they fill blue plastic boxes with pineapple peelings, green beans and garlic shoots.

A city that loves its buffets and banquets, Hong Kong dumped 3,600 tonnes of food waste a day in 2011.

Continue reading the main story

“We believe this process would be profitable, although it depends on the scale”

Carol Lin City University of Hong Kong

That is 11% more than in 2010 and the city looks particularly wasteful when compared to nearby countries.

According to figures provided by Friends of the Earth, Hong Kong generates half a kilo of food waste per head daily, compared with 0.36kg produced in Singapore, 0.35kg in Taiwan and 0.29kg in South Korea.

Friends of the Earth has launched a campaign encouraging people cut at least two dishes from the traditional banquets held to mark weddings, business deals and other special occasions. The elaborate meals can stretch to more than 12 courses.

Some two thirds of the city’s food waste comes from households, and a third from the city’s supermarkets, food stores, restaurants, hotels and schools. But it is food waste from this latter group that is expanding quickest.

Recycling options are few and far between. Most people live in high-rise apartments, with no space for composting and, as yet, there is no city-wide formal recycling for food waste.

The issue has taken on greater urgency as the city’s three landfill sites reach bursting point. All three are expected to be full by 2018.

Food Wastage comparison
Hong Kong (2012) Singapore (2011) Taiwan (2011)
Source: Friends of the Earth
Total food waste (tonnes/day) 3,584 1,863 8,040
Food waste per capita (kg/day) 0.50 0.36 0.35
Population 7,103,700 5,180,000 23,194,000

Novel approaches

In this gap, charities, business and scientists are coming up with their own solutions to the city’s food waste problem.

Two dozen non-governmental organisations and charities are said to operate food recycling programmes similar to the one at the Tai Wo wet market.

Biotechnology is another alternative, says Carol Lin, a scientist at City University of Hong Kong.

She has pioneered a technique that takes bakery and other food waste and makes succinic acid, a chemical that is widely used in the production of plastics, fabric and other fibres.

“We believe this process would be profitable, although it depends on the scale,” she says.

Succinic acid is normally made from petrochemicals, so her bio-refinery offers a potential double benefit – a commercial use of food waste and a way to reduce reliance on finite resources such as oil.

So far, though, no company has been willing to make the 19m Hong Kong dollar ($2.5m; £1.5m) investment needed to build a plant in Hong Kong, where land is scarce and expensive.

Pay as you throw

The government has begun to consider a city-wide solution to mounting levels of leftover food. Recently, it pledged to cut food waste by 10% in three years.

It has also launched a public consultation on charging for waste collection – a strategy that has led to a significant fall in waste disposal in Seoul and Taiwan.Students carrying baskets of discarded vegetables

Hong Kong is trying to raise awareness of food wastage among students

A per-bag charging scheme introduced in Taipei in 2000 reduced domestic waste disposal by 62% and domestic waste generation by 20% over a 10-year period, according to the consultation document.

Taipei also closed refuse collection points and public litter bins to avoid illegal dumping and the scheme’s success allowed the country to delay the construction of rubbish incinerators.

It remains to be seen whether famously free-market Hong Kong will be prepared to adopt such charges.

However, a poll conducted by Friends of the Earth in November suggested that 65% of 1,000 people surveyed would be willing to pay a fee, up from 52% six months earlier.

Memorable meal

Back at the wet market, the students wheel their carts of unsold vegetables to a kitchen used by the union’s training centre.

Two cooks sift and weigh the salvaged vegetables and whip up a selection of dishes – papaya soup, tomatoes and eggs, stir-fried cauliflower and cabbage.

They are wolfed down by the hungry teenagers, who declared they would never have guessed their meal was made from discarded food.

Their teacher, Alice Lee, hopes the experience will encourage the students to think twice about the food they waste – many of them throw away their school lunches and eat instant noodles from the tuck shop instead, she says.

The project organisers hope it is a meal that will stick in the students’ minds and, ultimately, help take a bite out of the city’s food waste mountain.

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

Hong Kong Will Ban Dirtiest Diesel Vehicles From City Limits

January 2, 2013 By Christopher DeMorro Leave a Comment


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It doesn’t take a genius to link air pollution with old vehicles, and the powers-that-be in Hong Kong have tried for decades to reduce the constant smog smothering one of the world’s most populated cities. Now a new initiative will ban the dirtiest diesel vehicles from the city limits while offering companies financial incentives for modernizing their delivery fleets.

While Hong Kong’s ruling party hasn’t laid out specifics, city leaders have noted that since air quality goals were enacted 25 years ago, the city has not met its own self-imposed goals once. In fact, last year saw 175 days of “high pollution” days, meaning almost half of 2012 was spent under a cloud of smog and engine emissions. While Hong Kong says that just 3,000 premature deaths a year are attributed to heavy pollution, the real number is probably a lot higher.

The main factor is the more than 120,000 diesel-powered heavy vehicles, including delivery trucks and buses, that operate in the city limits. 40% of these vehicles are older diesel models that comply with the Euro II model, emitting more than 12x the emissions that more modern diesel vehicles complying with the Euro V standard. While it is cheaper to run these older diesel vehicles rather than replace them, the long term health costs to society as a whole can no longer be tolerated, even in places like China, where the welfare of the working class is rarely cause for concern.

Hong Kong plans to get companies to phase out these older diesel vehicles by offering substantial government subsidies, while banning older diesel vehicles from operating in the city limits. City leaders hope that threat of banning businesses from operating their fleets in Hong Kong proper, along with generous subsidies, will lead to a cleaner, greener fleet of modern diesel vehicles. Other efforts to clean up air pollution include Hong Kong’s police department buying and using a fleet of Brammo electric motorcycles, which have been met with unabashed enthusiasm.

Other cities, including Paris, France and London, England have experimented with ways of reducing urban congestion and pollution. While London enacted a congestion charge for downtown that exempts EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Paris has talked about banning older, larger, and dirtier vehicles from the city limits, though without the draconian efficiency of Hong Kong. Beijing has also toyed with such

If Hong Kong’s efforts prove fruitful, other cities could follow their model. But it could also drive the cost of doing business in Hong Kong up as well. Will business owners adapt, fight, or flee these new stringent diesel restrictions?

Source: Bloomberg

Hong Kong will still need landfills

Submitted by admin on Jan 2nd 2013, 12:00am


I refer to two letters on December 13 on waste charging, from Tony Henderson (“Solid waste charge should be last resort”) and Karina Chow (“New policy could face stiff resistance”).

Let me first deal with the range of measures to provide a fuller picture of our waste strategy.

Firstly, we aim to reduce waste at source. On December 6, we announced the Food Wise Campaign to tackle household and commercial-industrial food waste. We wish to galvanise the community to adopt new practices to reduce and improve the handling of food waste. We will bring in new legislation this year to deal with electrical and electronic waste, and extend the plastic bag levy scheme to cover all retail outlets. We will also shortly consult the public on implementing a glass recycling system.

Secondly, Hong Kong’s recycling rate in 2011 was 48 per cent. By 2015, we aim to increase it to 55 per cent. This requires us to work with the community to improve separation of waste at source. We will announce new initiatives shortly.

Thirdly, we need to recover energy and resources from unavoidable waste and reduce the bulk volume before it goes to our landfills.

A state-of-the-art sludge incinerator is being built in Tuen Mun and will be commissioned in a year’s time. We will also build two organic waste treatment plants to handle food waste. We hope to secure full funding for them to come into operation in 2016 and 2017.

Our municipal waste charging proposal should be seen within the context of existing measures or those we are about to implement. Our previous public consultation shows the people support the principle of waste charging. The Council on Sustainable Development will further engage the public this year on details of a charging scheme. This may allow the government to legislate, with charging beginning by 2016. We will take affordability into account. The issue of illegal dumping and fly-tipping will be considered as part of designing the waste charging system.

Fourthly, our three landfills will be full within this decade. When all the above-mentioned measures are in place, Hong Kong will still have to dispose of about 9,000 tonnes of waste per day. Thus, we will need to expand landfill capacities, and apply modern incineration technology as a total package.

We appreciate the total picture is complicated and has many parts.

We will be putting out a new waste management policy paper in the new year and look forward to the community’s comments.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment



Food Wise Campaign

Food Waste



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