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August 25th, 2014:

Recycling figures: plain rubbish


2012 – reasons for Panel EA rejection of ENB landfill / incinerator package
“13. Details of the funding proposals for the three landfill extension projects are set out in LC Paper No. CB(1)1369/11-12(01) which is hyperlinked in the Appendix. According to the Government, IWMF would require some seven years for reclamation, construction and commission, while landfill extension would need a few years for site preparation works
15. The Panel held another special meeting on 20 April 2012 to continue discussion on the funding proposals. Noting that many measures pertaining to the Policy Framework had yet to be implemented , members were opposed to the reliance on landfills for waste disposal in view of the associated environmental nuisances, as well as the long lead time and cost incurred from restoration of landfills. They stressed the need for an holistic package of waste management measures (including waste reduction, separation and recycling) with waste incineration as a last resort and better communication between the two terms of Government on environmental policies, in particular on the need for incineration. They also urged the Administration to identify other suitable outlying islands for IWMF and promote the local recycling industry. In view of the foregoing, members did not support the submission of the funding proposals to the Public Works Subcommittee for consideration.”

actually gone backwards as the ‘new’ figures show– the China ‘Operation Green Fence’ blocking of transhipped dirty plastic from overseas to China via HKG exposed this sham of using the plastic trash transhipment figures as ‘local recycling’. ENB/EPD were caught out cheating by ‘Operation Green Fence’. The ENB denied the container loads of blocked plastics were locally landfilled – so what happened to it ?

SCMP Recycling figures: plain rubbish

CTA says: this only came to light due to China’s ‘Operation Green Fence’
ENB has been using data of containers of trash transhipped through here to China in their local recycling figures
When China blocked the transhipment of unwashed plastic imports the shxt hit the fan + the divisive ‘local recycling’ practice came to light
Still waiting to find out which local landfill they buried the dirty plastic waste in

Recycling figures: plain rubbish?

Wednesday, 29 January, 2014

Cheung Chi-fai

Overhaul of system is promised as officials admit estimates of the amount of waste the city recycles have been drastically overstated

Officials have admitted that estimates of the amount of Hong Kong waste being recycled – once put at over 50 per cent – have been drastically overstated. They said yesterday that the figures were distorted by “external factors” beyond their control and the system for calculating them would be overhauled. The admission came as the Environmental Protection Department reported a slashed recycling rate of 39 per cent in 2012, down from 48 the previous year and a peak of 52 in 2010.

The department blamed fluctuations in the waste trade and irregularities in export declarations for the distortions. In an effort to improve its data collection, it will introduce extra measures, as recommended by a consultant commissioned to look into the problem. But the officials said they did not believe the distortion would affect policy-making or the achievement of targets set out in the waste-management blueprint released last year.

World Green Organisation chief executive William Yu Yuen-ping said he was concerned about the “inflation of the recycling rate” and urged the department to set up an expert group to review the system. Friends of the Earth said the public would be confused by the figures. According to the 2012 solid waste monitoring report released by the department yesterday, Hong Kong recycled just 2.16 million tonnes of waste, 860,000 tonnes less than 2011. About 60 per cent of the shortfall was due to a sharp drop in the trade in plastic waste. Last year, a reported 320,000 tonnes of plastic waste was recycled, down from 840,000 tonnes in 2011 and 1.58 million tonnes in 2010. But the amount dumped in landfills largely remained steady at 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes during the same period. Since then, officials have used the disposal rate per person, rather than the recycling rate, as the key indicator to measure policy effectiveness.

In 2012, the former rate rose 3 per cent to 1.27kg. The department said the recycling rate had been calculated from waste export figures compiled by census and customs officers, and the booming trade in recent years might have inflated the figure. It also admitted that the formula could not accurately reflect local recycling efforts since it also included waste imported and then exported after processing. “We believe the 2012 figure is closer to the reality of how the city fared in recycling after a slump in the trade,” said an official, speaking anonymously.

Officials refused to be drawn on whether the admission showed that the recycling rate, used by former environment chiefs to highlight the city’s progress in dealing with its waste problem, had little value. “The public still have expectations for this figure and we will try to give the best estimate,” said an official, adding that the formula was widely adopted elsewhere in the world. Greeners’ Action executive director Angus Ho Hon-wai said the government should set up a registration system for recyclers in order to get first-hand recycling data. Lau Yiu-shing, a local waste recycler, admitted some operators might have wrongly reported export figures to suit their needs. But the scope of doing so had shrunk as mainland customs stepped up checks in recent years.

Let spoiled airlines fund Hong Kong’s third runway, not the public purse

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

Jake van der Kamp

An association representing 2,500 pilots in Hong Kong has voiced support for a third airport runway, saying air traffic congestion during peak hours is already forcing planes to wait 15 minutes or more to take off.

This third runway crowd is certainly getting mighty casual with our money in its demands that we lay out up to HK$200 billion to save airline customers the inconvenience of taking a flight at a not entirely suitable time.

These travellers must wait for 15 minutes if they travel at peak hours. What horror. How can they possibly put up with it? Surely Hong Kong is obliged to remedy this breach of human rights.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all in favour of a third runway if air passengers and cargo shippers are willing to pay for it. Any financier, given data that the airport authority has ready to hand, can work out in less than 10 minutes what this would amount to per traveller.

If airline customers are willing to pay it, well and good. We can call in the dredgers and start work tomorrow. If they are not willing to pay it, then here is the big question: Why should the Hong Kong public purse pay for something that the beneficiaries themselves say is not worth their while?

Just auction the landing slots at peak hours and we will soon find out what price airline passengers set on reducing a 15 minute wait. It will be a good deal less than HK$200 billion, however you cut it.

The airlines misuse our airport at present with flights of unsuitably small aircraft to unsuitably minor destinations in China. These should be served by other regional airports. We run 57 per cent more flights at Chek Lap Kok than we did at the old Kai Tak airport for the same number of passengers.

And here are some further examples of how casual the Airport Authority is with your money:

Did you know that these people have so far spent HK$694 million on consultancy for this third runway project although the go-ahead stage is not even in sight yet? It certainly was the fanciest all-singing, all-dancing consultation paper in Hong Kong’s history.

But what’s a hundred million here or there? Or a billion, which it will soon be at this rate. Loose change, that’s all, nothing really compared to what they expect us to spend if the project actually gets going.

And another example, courtesy of that sleuth of uncomfortable corporate facts, David Webb. Did you know that the airport’s landing and parking charges are now an average of 15 per cent less than they were in 1998?

It’s a fact – reduced from 1998. This same airport authority that wants to dig into our pockets for HK$200 billion is itself so in the pockets of the airlines that, while begging money from us, it substantially cut what it charges them.

Let’s put this into further perspective. It did so despite having on hand an independent study by a reputable British air traffic consultant, LeighFisher, that our airport’s charges were far lower than worldwide counterparts, the 54th lowest of 55 international airports covered.

You wonder how it happens. It’s our airport. We paid for it. But the people we hire to run it do so not in our interests but in the interests of corporations that have not put a cent into it. Why?

I imagine their excuse is that the airport is already profitable enough, with earnings for the last financial year of HK$6.45 billion representing a 15.1 per cent return on equity.

It’s notable, however, that this included income of HK$7.5 billion from shop rentals and other commercial revenue. The airport operations themselves ran at a loss or pretty close to it.

Oh, but you have to put the two together, say the airlines.

Nonsense. Shall shops in Causeway Bay be made to subsidise the Mass Transit Railway for bringing in their customers? Actually, I like that idea. We shall see if the airlines will join me in proposing it. They argue it for the airport. Why not for Causeway Bay?

The fact is, we spoiled them rotten and now they think it’s their right.

What’s the point of yet another report on biodiesel?

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014


Howard Winn

Interesting to see that the Hong Kong government is to commission a study into the costs and benefits of using biodiesel fuel with a view to blending it with fossil diesel.

Why the government is embarking on this study is not wholly clear since the Environmental Protection Department commissioned the University of Hong Kong to carry out a feasibility study for using biodiesel in vehicles in 2003.

Then ultra-low-sulphur diesel was sold at petrol stations in Hong Kong. The sulphur content of the fuel was lowered from 500 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm on January 1, 2001. The report found a blend of 20 per cent biodiesel fuel caused a slight decrease (less than 1 per cent) in engine power, a 16 per cent reduction in smoke opacity and 14 per cent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions.

However, as the EPD’s website reports, on December 1, 2007, the government introduced Euro V diesel, which has a sulphur content of 0.001 per cent. Since then, all filling stations in Hong Kong are exclusively offering this fuel. The EPD’s website also points out that fuelling existing diesel vehicles with Euro V diesel can reduce their sulphur dioxide and particulates emissions by 80 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

In other words Euro V is a vastly superior product to ultra-low-sulphur diesel. Adding biodiesel to Euro V diesel will have a negligible effect on emissions. There is plenty of information on this available so we are curious as to why there needs to be another report.

Hopefully this is not going to end up as a sop to the biodiesel industry which would be keen on having its products used in this way. Maybe it’s a way of fending it off. Either way, we suppose that it shows the EPD is doing something.

The university report also noted concerns that biodiesel could damage the fuel lines of vehicles older than 10 years, and void the vehicle warranty and insurance. We look forward to seeing what new information the government will come up with.