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Study backs incinerators but says five, not two, needed

South China Morning Post — 26 Oct. 2010

Five incinerators – one in each of the Legislative Council’s geographical constituencies – should be built to handle the city’s daily load of 10,000 tonnes of rubbish, not just the two proposed.

That is among recommendations in a Baptist University study, released yesterday, into use of incineration to rid the city of its solid waste.

The report cites European and Asian economies where incineration is a popular and effective form of waste disposal, and says it is especially suitable for such densely populated cities as Hong Kong. In Japan, three-quarters of solid waste is burned, and only 1.7 per cent goes to landfills, says the report by the university’s Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies.

The study supports the government’s plan to build incinerators on Shek Kwu Chau, off Lantau, and in Tuen Mun. But it says two are not enough. “In the long run … our study recommends that the government can build one incinerator in each of the five districts as defined by the geographical constituencies,” the report says. “This would not only ease the pressure on landfills, but also minimise pollution brought about by transporting the waste across districts, and thus saving costs and boosting efficiency.”

It cites Tokyo as an example and says there is an incinerator in each of its districts.

The report acknowledges that many people in Hong Kong still consider incineration an unclean way of handling rubbish, but it says technological advancements have made incineration a clean and effective method of waste disposal. One advantage, the report says, is that incinerators can also generate electricity. It cites Macau, where the local incinerator can generate sufficient electricity for 33,000 families. In Germany, 75 incinerators handle 18 million tonnes of rubbish a year and provide job opportunities for about 60,000 people.

Public concerns about disposal of rubbish have mounted since a government move to expand the landfill in Tseung Kwan O was voted down by the legislature.

Environment officials have warned that the city’s three landfills will soon be full and other ways of handling the rubbish need to be explored.

Hong Kong’s daily production of municipal solid waste grew from 8,600 tonnes in 2000 to about 9,800 tonnes last year. At present, about half is recycled and the rest is sent to the three landfills.

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