Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

September 8th, 2013:

Plan to grow profits from food waste

SCMP Online comment:

“recycling rate having recently risen to 48 per cent” = hogwash The alleged figures include imported waste for transfer to the Mainland, a lot of which was now halted by Operation Green Fence.

Wet food waste here has the highest water content worldwide. Wet market waste is 90% water whilst mall waste hovers around 70% versus 30% water content in Europe, 50% Japan, 55% Korea. Previous Govt composting tests provided compost of such low quality it could not be used or exported, so it was landfilled.

How many HK people have gardens here, grow crops, rear pigs ?

The two proposed local digestion plants will produce 20 tonnes of compost per day – what would we do with that?

Separation at source has great merit. Currently 3,300 m3 hi-water content food waste is mixed w/ possible recyclable material per day. If it were separated the remaining dry MSW could create new jobs in recycling plants thus vastly reducing reliance on landfill. Separating food waste would also reduce smells & gases formed in landfills.

Our brilliant Stonecutters sewerage system & feeder network could handle all our current & future (pulverised) food waste in minutes if it were collected as Green Bin waste (such as Santa Monica) then pulverised at transfer stations & fed into the sewage system.

As for incineration, how do you burn water ? Wet food waste has a calorific value 4 MJ/kg lower than is required for combustion so additional energy would be needed to co-combust it.

A complete no-brainer.

South China Morning Post

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Plan to grow profits from food waste

Plan to grow profits from food waste

Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 12:00am


A proposal to expand landfills for future waste management has prompted lots of argument.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing says the government takes waste management seriously and has promised to promote recycling efforts. We feel there is an urgent need to increase education and compliance in recycling, because dumping rubbish into landfills is not a long-term solution.

Hong Kong has acquired the reputation of being the most wasteful city in Asia despite the recycling rate having recently risen to 48 per cent. On average, each person in Hong Kong generates 1.36kg of trash daily, compared to 1kg in Taipei, 0.95kg in Seoul and 0.77kg in Tokyo.

Wet kitchen waste (for example, eggshells, tea leaves and coffee grounds) is not considered by the government as “green waste” and thus ignored for recycling. For a long time in Hong Kong, waste from the construction industry and electronic devices has been recycled. Newspaper, glass and plastic bottles are officially considered green waste.

Wet kitchen waste could be recycled creatively. One way is to turn it into organic fertiliser which could grow better and healthier crops in an environmentally friendly way. Also, people should be educated to recycle wet kitchen waste for home gardening.

Separating such waste may be time-consuming and troublesome. But back in the 1950s in Hong Kong, people who were given a name in Chinese which translated as “waste food collector”, collected leftover food door to door and it was used to feed pigs and other farm animals. Today, everyone ignores the many benefits of wet kitchen waste.

Creative use of waste resources is conducive to a stronger economy. Wet kitchen waste could be sold for HK$10 per kg. Newspaper and cardboard collectors could be hired to collect it, as in the old days, and then deliver the produce to end users, such as organic farms, for processing. In this way kitchen waste, like other recyclables, can be turned into financial profits.

We hope the government will consider our idea rather than spending billions of dollars on the controversial landfill expansion plan.

Anson Chan Wai-ting, North Point, Alice Leung Pik-han, Sha Tin

Source URL (retrieved on Sep 8th 2013, 7:20am):

Delay in disclosing toxic run-off makes landfill expansion a harder sell

· land_fill_leak.jpg

Leak in one of the leachate lagoons of the North East New Territories Landfill has resulted in an overflow of leachate into the Kong Yiu River. Photo: EPA

South China Morning Post

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Delay in disclosing toxic run-off makes landfill expansion a harder sell

Delay in disclosing toxic run-off makes landfill expansion a harder sell

Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 12:00am

CommentInsight & Opinion


SCMP Editorial

The concept of the public’s right to know should not be too hard to understand for a government that prides itself as transparent and accountable. Instead of keeping the people in the dark, officials are expected to inform them as much as possible. This is particularly important when it involves issues of public health and safety. Delay and cover-up are not an option in an open society like Hong Kong.

But our government has once again acted otherwise. It took a month for the Environmental Protection Department to put out an alert on toxic water leaked from a landfill in North district. Although no one is believed to be drinking from the channel found to be contaminated, some farmers are said to irrigate their crops with the water. It has to be asked why officials kept the news to themselves after seepage was first reported on July 28. They may have wanted to wait for more data to assess its impact. But they also missed the earliest opportunity to inform the public of the potential danger. That transparency has been compromised is regrettable.

The strong reaction to the belated announcement shows the issue is a matter of serious concern. The department was wrong not to have sounded the warning earlier. Ironically, officials are still reluctant to come clean on the scale of the problem. Questions, such as how much water has leaked, and its toxicity, remain unanswered. What is certain is that contamination exceeded statutory levels and prosecution of the contractor is under way. The non-disclosure goes against the transparency and accountability expected of a responsible government.

The government has apparently not learned the lesson of last summer, when seven shipping containers of plastic materials washed off a vessel during a typhoon. Officials remained silent for weeks until some beaches were found mysteriously awash with white pellets. It is disturbing to hear that the Tuen Mun landfill might have had similar problems last year. This was first revealed during a radio phone-in programme; officials later denied the allegation.

The plan to expand the city’s near-saturated landfills is already an uphill battle. The latest news is likely to muddy the water further if damage control is not done properly. It is good to hear that officials will consider more timely disclosure in future. The funding requests for the expansion projects are to be retabled to the legislature by early next year. Every effort has to be made to restore public confidence in our landfills.