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December, 2013:

letsrecycle: APP receives funding for waste-to-gas project

by Tom Goulding, writing for letsrecycle:

Gasification specialist Advanced Plasma Power (APP) has been awarded a £1.9 million grant for commercial trials of the production of its residual waste-derived syngas for use in homes.

The finance is part of a three-year project partly funded by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem).

APP will conduct commercial trials of waste-derived syngas production in Swindon. (letsrecyle)

The project, co-managed by APP, the National Grid and Progressive Energy, a clean energy development firm, will produce low carbon methane, or bio-substitute natural gas from residual waste for use in the UK gas network.

APP will conduct a two stage thermal gasification process at its trial facility in Swindon, which became operational in 2008.

The programme, which is the second phase of a feasibility study started in February 2012, aims to establish whether converting waste-derived syngas to a quality acceptable for the gas network is commercially viable (see story).

The second phase of the trial, for which APP has the received the Ofgem funding, will look at gathering data from the procurement, fabrication, and test operation of the demonstration facility.


APP says that the trial will provide technical and economic data to demonstrate the viability of rolling out the technology on a commercial scale.

Waste for the trial will not be derived from any single supplier, but the company has said that it will be seeking to carry out testing on a wide range of feedstocks.

Work will start in April 2014, and will be split into three phases for building, commissioning, and testing the programme, with an estimated completion date of March 2017.


SCMP: Activists to show why incinerator plan should be thrown out

from Howard Winn of the SCMP:

A New Territories group will tomorrow publish a report recommending that the government does not proceed with the controversial Shek Kwu Chau incinerator.

The New Territories Concern Group (NTCG) has taken up the issue of Hong Kong’s waste management and recently sent a delegation to Europe to inspect waste management systems including incinerators, and gasification plants.

The group is chaired by Ronnie Tang, who is also a village representative and the founding chairman of the Pat Heung North Environment Attention Group. The group’s spokesman is Junius Ho kwan yiu, who in addition to being a former president of the Hong Kong Law Society also has the distinction of having deposed Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat as chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee.

The group’s findings to be released tomorrow will include a recommendation that food waste should be dealt with separately instead of dumping it in landfills as the government does at present.

The suggestion is that food waste, which comprises 42 per cent of the waste sent to landfills and is between 70 and 90 per cent water, should be shredded at source by garburators and handled by Stonecutters Water Treatment plant, which is currently operating at 50 per cent of capacity.

To cope with the residual non-organic waste, which cannot be recycled, the group recommends gasification as a more mature and appropriate technology to meet Hong Kong’s present and future waste management needs. These measures would obviate the need for the incinerator, the report says.

It suggests the establishment of one or more pilot plants to determine the suitability of gasification technology for Hong Kong.

The report also recommends there should be no further delays to territory-wide charging for waste.

The Environmental Protection Department in recent years has stoutly resisted gasification technology and is apparently wedded to incineration. The incinerator is currently on hold as a result of being denied funding by the Legislative Council and because of the appeal which has been lodged against the rejection of the judicial review by the High Court in July. This is unlikely to be heard until June next year.

Those opposed to incineration are hopeful that with opposition within Legco, together with the efforts of lobbying groups such as the NTCG, it will be possible to redirect government policies in dealing with waste.

22 Nov 2013

Letter from NT Concern Group: Waste Management in Hong Kong

Dear Green Groups and Friends of the Enviroment:

Re : Waste Management in Hong Kong

As you may well be aware, under government’s proposals, their solution to Hong Kong’s growing waste production problems are to extend the three landfills currently at Tuen Mun, Twa Kwu Ling and Tseung Kwan O as soon as possible as they are projected to become saturated between 2015 and 2019.  In addition, government intends to build incinerators on an artificial island just off Shek Kwu Chau.

We, the New Territories Concern Group (“NT Concern Group”), a non-politically affiliated group, are concerned with these proposals and have committed ourselves to commission a report to spark national debate and interest in this area.  We went on a fact-finding mission to the Netherlands and to the UK between 16th September 2013 and 22nd September 2013. From our research findings and for the following reasons, we have concluded that Plasma Gasification is superior to government’s proposed incinerator as it is:-

  1. CLEANER as there are no dioxins, fly ash or carbon dioxide discharged;
  2. MORE EFFICIENT in that the syngas produced allows for greater energy potentials;
  3. MORE ENVIROMENTAL FRIENDLY in that the by-product, vitrified inert slag, does not need to be put in landfills and the technology allows for backmining of landfills; and
  4. MORE COST EFFECTIVE in construction and maintenance.  It occupies less land and does not require reclamation of land.

The NT Concern Group aim to build up constructive communications with government so that they will seriously consider alternative technology such as plasma gasification before they commission the construction of the incinerators and expand the landfills and therefore:-

  1. WASTE BILLIONS of dollars of your money;
  2. WASTE HUNDREDS of hectares of Hong Kong’s precious land;
  3. FURTHER POLLUTE Hong Kong’s environment; and
  4. HARM and have an adverse impact on your health and the health of your future generations.

To that end, please find our Waste Management Report for your kind attention. We welcome your kind comments and questions and our Mr. Junius Ho (public relations and spokesperson) and Mr. Vincent Chung (researcher) can be contacted on 2523 3846 and 2106 9824 respectively.

We believe plasma gasification to be a better solution for “Hong Kong: Our Home”, for the environment and for the people of Hong Kong. Government should give Hong Kong a chance. Give ourselves a chance.  Give our future generations a chance.

Yours faithfully,

NT Concern Group


Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan

The Scottish government released a‘Zero Waste Plan’ in 2010, outlining an organised scheme for achieving zero waste production over 10 years. Readers will find special emphasis on presorting waste and banning materials from landfills, development of infrastructure for recycling, and, most importantly, recognising the importance of businesses participating in the effort.

BigHospitality: Restaurants urged to join campaign to gain zero food waste to landfill by 2020

from Helen Gilbert, reporting for Big Hospitality:

Restaurants, retailers, food manufacturers and householders should view food waste as a ‘valuable resource’ and adopt new measures to prevent the millions of tonnes of leftover and surplus food being sent to landfill each year, a new report has claimed.

The research, by food waste recycler ReFood and entrepreneurial charity BioRegional, calls on firms to recognise the value of food waste which can be turned into energy, provide nutrients for agriculture and generate heat and sets out measures to help companies and householders achieve a zero waste to landfill target by 2020.

Restaurants are being urged to adopt methods to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. (BigHospitality)

According to the ‘Vision 2020: UK Roadmap to Zero Food Waste to Landfill’ report the reduction of food waste by households, businesses and the public sector would save the UK economy more than £17bn a year by 2020 and prevent 27m tonnes of greenhouse gas a year from entering the atmosphere.

Over 1.3m tonnes a year of valuable nutrients would be returned to the soil, while enough electricity to power over 600,000 homes would be generated, the report claimed.

Recommendations include a clear timetable for the phased introduction of a ban on food waste to landfill to come into effect by 2020, compulsory separate collections of food waste from homes and businesses, which can then be reused in the form of energy and for agricultural purposes and greater collaboration at every stage of the supply chain to accelerate the adoption of best practice.

The report also calls for the integration of food waste education into school, college and professional training programmes and increased support for WRAP’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ initiative.

“Our message is clear; food waste is a valuable resource that should never end up in landfill sites,” Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, said. “Everyone from the food producer, through to the retailer, the restaurant and the householder can play their part in ensuring that we take full advantage of its considerable potential by ensuring we re-use, recycle and recover every nutrient and kilowatt of energy it has to offer.”

Sue Riddlestone, OBE, chief executive and co-founder of BioRegional added: “The case for change is compelling. We will save billions of pounds. We will prevent millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere. And crucially, we will ensure that food is treated as a precious resource.”

The Pig Idea Feast

The national initiative comes as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Thomasina Miers prepare to cook up a free lunch for The Pig Idea Feast, an event being held in Trafalgar Square, London on 21 November in aid of a separate campaign to get food waste back on the menu for pigs in the UK.

The chefs are calling for change in European law to allow surplus food waste from restaurants, supermarkets and other food businesses to be fed to pigs – a practice that has been outlawed since 2002.

12 Nov 2013

RFA: Ten Detained, Two Injured in Guangdong Clashes Over Planned Waste Plant

from Luisetta Mudie, writing for Radio Free Asia:

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained at least 10 people amid clashes between riot police and protesters angry over plans to built a waste incinerator plant near their homes, residents said on Thursday.

“They detained 10 people, and some of them were injured,” a resident of Xinlian village near Guangdong’s Meizhou city said of Wednesday’s clashes.

“A lot of riot police … and special police came, maybe [350] or more,” said the resident, who gave only his surname Zhu.

“That’s when the clashes happened, and two villagers were injured, including an old lady who was taken to hospital with broken ribs,” he said. “She was in her sixties.”

Zhu said the local farming community was furious that the local government had appropriated more than 100 mu (16 acres) of rice paddy on the pretext of building a new highway, but that when construction work began, workers told the villagers they were building a waste incinerator on their doorstep.

A delegation was sent to confront the village party secretary, but was turned away without a meeting, he added.


SCMP: Shenzhen delegates demand closure of Hong Kong landfill sites after choking smog hits city

from Chris Luo of the SCMP:

Delegates from Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress have urged Hong Kong to shut down all of its landfill sites close to the border after smoke arising from a fire at one of the sites choked the city last week.

Dozens of city’s legislation deputies on Monday appeared at the city’s congress demanding the government to initiate a full-scale hazard assessment after polluted air hit the region, said the Southern Metropolis Daily on Tuesday.

The choking smog that filled the air came from a level-two fire on Friday night at a waste-recycling site in Fanling’s Ta Kwu Ling, just 1.5 kilometres from the Hong Kong – Shenzhen border. Fire categories in Hong Kong are classed between one and five, with five being the most serious. The Hong Kong fire department dispatched 23 fire engines and put out the fire within around two hours. No casualties were reported.

However strong odours resembling that of burned rubbish have since been reported in Luohu, Futian, and Nanshan districts in southern Shenzhen, prompting a number of people to complain on social networking websites.

The Shenzhen city government confirmed on its official microblog on Saturday that the choking smog was a result of the landfill fire. Data from the Shenzhen official meteorological bureau’s website showed a surge in levels of small inhalable particles PM2.5 that are hazardous to health shortly after the fire broke out in Hong Kong.

Yang Qin, one of the protesting delegates, told the Southern Metropolis Daily that the incident was “unprecedented in Shenzhen history” and demanded the government to publicly announce the assessment results.

“Shenzhen [government] should have clear acknowledgment and counter-measures regarding these pollution sources,” Yang was quoted as saying.

“The fire incident is an alarm for Shenzhen. [We] urge Hong Kong government to re-evaluate the future impact of landfill locations to Shenzhen and call upon [Hong Kong] to shut all of its landfill sites along the border,” Yang reportedly said on behalf of the protesting delegates.

Hong Kong’s rubbish dumps, many located close to the border with Shenzhen, have increasingly angered residents across the border.

In July, two Shenzhen residents paid a visit to Hong Kong to lodge a complaint about the Tuen Mun landfill extension plan. They said the extension plan of the site, just six kilometres from their home of Nanshan district, was “unacceptable” and would “only lead to a dead end”.

12 Nov 2013

Airline Representatives official distorts Third Runway debate as ‘Environment vs Economy’, pours out the kool-aid.

Mr. Joe Ng, vice-chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives of Hong Kong, wrote in to the SCMP to weigh in on the debate regarding the Third Runway proposal of the Hong Kong Airport:

The current discussion around the proposed three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport is focused on the potential impacts on the environment.

The environmental lobby and those living near the airport have raised valid concerns about the potential impact on local ecology, noise disturbance and air quality. But there is also the validity of the overall need for a third runway to consider.

Not only is Hong Kong International Airport a major transport hub, it is also vital to the city’s continued prosperity as an economic powerhouse. This brings benefits to everyone in Hong Kong, not just airline passengers or cargo shippers.

It also generates vital benefits through connections between cities and markets that enable foreign direct investment, business development and other spillover benefits that help Hong Kong thrive. Currently, aviation is worth HK$88.9 billion to Hong Kong, representing 5.5 per cent of gross domestic product.


SCMP Letters: Decision on incinerator technology driven by vested interests

From Tom Yau, Lantau Island resident:

Environmental Protection Department assistant director Elvis Au’s claim (“Why Shek Kwu Chau incinerator is still the best option [1]”, November 5) obscures the fact that the decision on incinerator technology was driven by vested interests, and the decision on the incinerator’s location by political pressure. Neither decision is “the best option” for Hong Kong.

The department has fixated on building a moving-grate incinerator since Edward Yau Tang-wah became environment secretary in July 2007. Au refuses to acknowledge the advances in incinerator technology over the past six years, ignoring the decreasing installation of moving-grate incinerators worldwide and the increasing use of plasma gasification for municipal solid waste. Nor has Au addressed the growing evidence on the health hazards of the older technology.

In 2009, before any decision was made on incinerator technology, the department engaged Aecom to hold “public consultations” making the case for a moving-grate incinerator. In November 2011, the department appointed Aecom the prime contractor for the project; this was before it sought approval from the Legislative Council’s environment panel in April 2012. The intersection of Aecom’s interest in a sunset technology and the department’s predisposition to this technology was evident from early in Yau’s tenure.

On the choice of location, the department clearly yielded to political pressure. Reports by its two consultants, Camp, Dresser & McKee International and Aecom, show Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun as the better location under five criteria: engineering, technical, economic, less ecological impact and more efficient land use. One factor favours Shek Kwu Chau: lower transportation cost.

Constructing an incinerator in Tsang Tsui would cost 26 per cent less than in Shek Kwu Chau (September 2011 prices reported by Au in 2012) and be completed two years earlier. Reclamation, seabed dredging and cable laying to create the Shek Kwu Chau infrastructure will have an impact on fisheries and wildlife habitats. The Tsang Tsui site is ready in situ amid existing waste-treatment facilities.

However, Tuen Mun district councillor Lau Wong-fat was reported in January 2008 as saying Tuen Mun already has a power plant and landfill, hence the government should pick another site for the incinerator. Since then, the department has promoted Shek Kwu Chau, introducing the specious criterion of “balanced spatial distribution” of waste treatment facilities.

The choice of incinerator technology and its location will affect Hong Kong far into the future. It should not be driven by vested interests and political pressure.

12 Nov 2013

SCMP: Airport Authority under pressure to lift lid on commercial project

from Olga Wong and Tanna Chong of the SCMP:

Four board members of the Airport Authority have called for details about options to develop a commercial project, putting pressure on the management to lift the lid on its inner dealings.

The calls came as media this week exposed a feud between the authority chairman and his likely successor over the project on the airport premises.

At stake is the proposed construction of a third runway, which may be delayed further if a depot for a driverless electric train is built near it. If, however, the depot is set up under the commercial project – as chairman Marvin Cheung Kin-tung has insisted on – detractors including his perceived replacement Vincent Lo Hung-sui fear it will devalue the 120,000 square metre site, which is to feature hotels and a shopping centre. Four of the 16 board members approached by the South China Morning Post yesterday voiced concerns about the development, to be called the North Commercial District.

The vision for the Third-Runway plan. The 'commercial project' in question relates to the Terminal 2 expansion, which is expected to handle the passenger flow on the new apron. (HKIA)