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March 23rd, 2012:

Waste Regulations laid before Scottish Parliament

23 March 2012

By Will Date

Regulations designed to put the Scottish Government’s ambitious Zero Waste Plan into action have been laid before the Scottish Parliament.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 were laid out before the Scottish Parliament on March 15, MSPs will vote on the proposals around June

The draft Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 include provisions to restrict feedstock to energy-from-waste facilities, introduce requirements for separate collections of materials such as food waste and ban biodegradable municipal waste from landfill – a first for the UK.

The regulations were laid on March 15 and MSPs are expected to vote on and approve them in June 2012. They are largely the same as legislative proposals published in October 2011 (see story). However, they include a few minor changes. For example, proposals to require local authorities to collect textiles have been removed. And, the period over which councils will be required to roll out food waste collections has been extended.

Zero Waste

Proposed Regulations:

• Businesses will be required to separate the key dry recyclables (glass, metal, plastic, paper and card) and food at source
• Ban on non-domestic use of food waste disposal units and food waste digesters which involve “treated food‟ being discharged into the public sewer network
• Businesses producing food to arrange separate collection of food waste by 2013

• Local Authorities will have a duty from the end of 2013 to provide receptacles to householders to enable them to recycle dry recyclables such as glass, metals, plastics, paper and card
• Local authorities to provide households with a receptacle for food waste collection from 2016

• A ban on sending biodegradable municipal wastes to landfill by the end of 2020
• Separately collected waste should be collected to meet quality standards to encourage high quality recycling

• Permits granted after July 2012 authorising incineration of municipal waste will ensure that no waste including non-ferrous metals or hard plastics are incinerated
• All separately collected materials will no longer be able to be sent for incineration from the end of 2013

Scotland is also aiming to reach a 70% recycling rate for all waste by 2025 under its 2010 Zero Waste Plan (see story), and the regulations are intended to drive waste out of landfill and up the hierarchy, while ensuring the quality of outputs is maintained to help achieve that goal.

Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead, said: “When I launched Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan in 2010, I was clear that the key challenge was to shift our view and see today’s waste as tomorrow’s resource; so that Scottish people and businesses can realise the economic and environmental benefits.

“These draft regulations mark an important step in this shift that will help propel Scotland towards being one of the highest performing recycling nations. The regulations also aim to drive forward improvements to the quality of collection services offered to businesses and households, while reducing our dependence on landfill and other forms of waste treatment.”

Food waste

The Regulations will give greater responsibilities to businesses who, from January 2014, will be required to separate dry recyclables including glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, and food waste at source. This is a year earlier than the requirement in England and Wales who will have similar requirements in place by 2015. This will apply to shops, offices, factories, restaurants, schools and hospitals.

Also, companies involved in food production, food retailing or food preparation with a capacity to handle more than 50kg of food per week, will be required to separate food waste for collection by 2014, while smaller businesses will be given until 2016 to comply.

The Regulations also include proposals for a ban on the use of food waste disposal units and food waste digesters which involve treated food non-domestic food waste being discharged into public sewers.

As of 2014, separately collected waste will be banned from landfill, and biodegradable municipal waste will also be banned by the end of 2020.

Local authorities will meanwhile be required by the end of 2013 to provide householders with containers for dry recyclables such as glass, metals, plastics, paper and card. However, in a change from the original consultation proposals it will now be at the discretion of local authorities whether or not to collect textile.


The Scottish government is keen to ensure the Regulations should guarantee that the volume and type of materials sent for disposal by incineration are be greatly reduced. As a result, it is proposing a ban on separately collected material being sent for incineration from the end of 2013. However, if waste is found to be heavily contaminated it will be possible to send this for incineration.

Also, the proposals include a provision that best available techniques are to be used to remove ferrous metals and hard plastics from residual municipal waste prior to incineration, which will apply from the end of 2015.


The government has also indicated it will ban the mixing of separately collected wastes with other waste where such mixing would hinder future recycling and the proposals include amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to provide a clear definition of ‘separate collection’.

In future separately collected material will be defined as: “waste that is presented for collection, and collected in a manner that ensures that dry recyclable waste is kept separate from other waste; waste from one dry waste stream is kept separate from waste in another such stream; and food waste is kept separate from other waste.”

A consultation on the regulations began on Tuesday (March 20), with the government accepting views from stakeholders until April 11.

Related Links

Draft Waste (Scotland) Regulations

Scotland Bill

The laying of the regulations comes after the announcement last week (March 21) that the Scotland Bill is nearing completion. The Bill, which is currently being considered in the House of Commons would give the Scottish government greater powers, including setting levels of landfill tax

Download PDF : data

Still possible to stay below 2°C

Download PDF : http–

what a waste

EPD explains the depth of local HK recycling =98.6 tonnes per day

“Waste reduction and recycling are very important elements of the local waste management framework. They help both to conserve natural resources and to reduce demand for valuable landfill space.

Through the existing waste recovery system, about 3.60 million tonnes of municipal solid waste were recovered in Hong Kong in 2010. Of that total, 1% was recycled locally and 99% was exported to the Mainland and other countries for recycling, with an export earning of HK$8.6 billion for Hong Kong.”

To dispel the miraculous ‘52% of recovery rate’ of Hong Kong, see this:

What big lies (economical with the truth) Elvis AU has said about how the EPD calculate/measure their recovery rate during the RTHK interview when we are talking about local recycling?

Control on Import and Export of Waste


Waste Trade Statistics

Over the last decade, the transboundary movements of waste in Hong Kong have increased significantly, largely as a result of international trading of waste for recycling purposes. More than 12 million tonnes per annum of waste materials were moving into and out of the territory in the last few years. The majority of these waste materials were recyclable non-hazardous wastes such as plastic waste, metal waste and scrap paper destined for recycling in Hong Kong or the nearby region. The substantial volume of waste import, export and re-export activities are driven mainly by the growing manufacturing and industrial activities in the Southern China in the past years and their increased demand for recovered scrap materials as secondary and inexpensive raw materials.

USA, Japan, and other regions in the Southern China are the major waste trade partners of Hong Kong. In general, waste is shipped from developed countries such as the USA, Japan, and the United Kingdom through Hong Kong into the Southern China.

Image of Waste Flow with Major Waste Trade Partners

Chart of Hong Kong Waste Import and Export Figures (2006-2010)

Chart of Hong Kong Waste Import and Export Figures (2006-2010)

Chart of Hong Kong Waste Import and Export Figures (2006-2010)


Download PDF : NYWAG-Health-Risks

Incinerator plants are the source of serious toxic pollutants

“In a House of Lords enquiry on 14th  April 1999, Environment Minister

Michael Meacher said,

“Incinerator plants are the source of serious toxic pollutants: dioxins;

furans; acid gases; particulates; heavy metals; and they all need to

be treated very seriously. There must be absolute prioritisation given

to human health requirements and protection of the environment. I

repeat the emissions from incinerator processes are extremely toxic.

Some of the emissions are carcinogenic… We must use every

reasonable instrument to eliminate them altogether”.

Download PDF : 3809

Incinerators and their Health Effects

Incinerators and their Health Effects

Incinerators and their Health Effects           June 2006-06-15

Incineration is a topical subject in Ireland as our government presses ahead with plans to build various incinerators around the Irish countryside to deal with our waste problem. History has demonstrated that it may take decades to identify the health effects of procedures that produce more chemicals into our environment. Time and again, early warning signs have often gone unheeded and proven to be far more important than we realized at the time. Aside from the well-known premature assurance given regarding the use of toxic pesticides such as DDT in the past, it was also unexpected to find that a major source of dioxin contamination of food supplies was due to the older generation of incinerators in the UK. For these reasons, the British Society for Ecological Medicine has recently published a report on the health effects of waste incinerators. They explain in their introduction that the purpose of their report is “to look at all the evidence and come to a balanced view about the future dangers that would be associated with the next generation of waste incinerators”.

Incineration does not solve the problem of waste, it only reduces waste to approximately 30 – 50 % of the original compressed waste mass, and this is converted into an ash that contains some of the most toxic concentrations of substances, such as dioxins and heavy metals. The generation and safe disposal of this toxic waste is very problematic as pollutants from landfill sites have been known to seep out, polluting local water sources, and once they contaminate the water table, their removal is considered to be almost impossible. The EU Commission have stated that this may be one of the most important sources of dioxins in the future. Accidents are also a possibility when moving toxic ash on lengthy road journeys to special landfill sites.

Incinerators release hundreds of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere when the waste is burned. Little is known about the risks of many of these toxic chemicals, particularly when they are combined. The exact composition of the emissions from incinerators is variable depending upon the waste being burnt, the efficiency of the incinerator and the pollution control measure available. As the chemical nature of our waste is changing, the potential for adverse health effects from incineration emissions are very difficult to assess. In terms of health effects, some of the most important constituents of emissions are considered to be particulates, heavy metals and combustion products of man-made chemicals.

Particulates, or particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic particles that can be solid, liquid or both, suspended in the air.There is a large, and increasing body of research highlighting the health dangers of particulates found in incinerator emissions. Research done in 2004 by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Bonn found that:

  • PM increases the risk of respiratory death in infants under 1 year, affects the rate of lung function development, aggravates asthma and causes other respiratory symptoms such as cough and bronchitis in children;
  • PM2.5 seriously affects health, increasing deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Increased PM2.5 concentrations increase the risk of emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory causes; and
  • PM10 affects respiratory morbidity, as indicated by hospital admissions for respiratory illness (WHO fact sheet, 2005; 2).

In terms of heavy metals, several of the metals found in the emissions and ash produced by incinerators are known or suspected carcinogens. These toxins accumulate in the body over time. In children they have been implicated in childhood problems including autism, dyslexia, allergies, impulsive behaviour attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as learning difficulties, lowered intelligence and delinquency. Exposed adults have demonstrated higher levels of violence, dementia and depression than in non-exposed adults. They have also been implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Inhalation of some of them, such as nickel, beryllium, chromium, cadmium and arsenic, is found to increase the risk of lung cancer. Mercury, one of the most dangerous heavy metals, is neurotoxic and implicated in learning disabilities, hyperactivity as well as Alzheimer’s Disease.

The report also found that a large number of the toxins emitted by incinerators can cause damage to the immune system. It is now thought that the synergistic effect of the combination of various toxins is likely to have an even more potent and damaging effect on immunity than any pollutant in isolation. Most of these chemicals are fat-soluble and accumulate in the fatty organs and tissue. They are particularly dangerous to the unborn child because many of these toxins are actively transmitted to the foetus across the mother’s placenta, for the body mistakes heavy metals for essential minerals. Until very late in the pregnancy, the only fatty tissues that the foetus has, is its nervous system and particularly the brain, so it is there that they accumulate.

The National Research Council was established to advise the US government on the extent of population that would be exposed to health hazards by an incinerator. They concluded that,

Persistent air pollutants, such as dioxins, furans and mercury can be dispersed over large regions – well beyond local areas and even the countries from which the sources emanate. Food contaminated by an incinerator facility might be consumed by local people close to the facility or far away from it. Thus, local deposition on food might result in some exposure of populations at great distances, due to transport of food to markets. However, distant populations are likely to be more exposed through long-range transport of pollutants and low-level widespread deposition on food crops at locations remote from an incineration facility (,2005;34).

When looking at the updated incinerators that cause less air pollution, they found that they cause more toxic ash, which is easily wind-borne. It is of critical importance, that there is still no adequate method for disposing with this toxic fly ash and that it has a record of being poorly regulated.

The evaluated cost of incineration is enormous, not just in the waste disposal costs, which are very high, but also in health and environmental damage, which can cost countries billions to address. It was exactly for these types of situations that the Precautionary Principle was introduced into national and international law. A recent review of health effects of incinerators found a positive exposure-disease association with cancer and congenital malformations. It would therefore seem that from the evidence presented in this report, that building municipal waste incinerations not only contravenes the Precautionary Principle but possibly, European law.

Finally, the authors of the report note that,

Taking into account these results and the difficulty in identifying causes of cancers and other chronic diseases, it is a matter of considerable concern that incinerators have been introduced without a comprehensive system to study their health effects and that further incinerators are being planned without comprehensive monitoring either of emission or of the health of the local population. (B.S.E.M. report, 2005; 21)

As Professor C. V. Howard from the Centre for Molecular Biosciences, University of Ulster, concluded in his foreword on the report,

Incineration destroys accountability and this encourages industries to go on making products that lead to problematic toxic wastes. Once the waste has been reduced to ash who can say who made what? The past 150 years has seen a progressive “toxification” of the waste stream with heavy metals, radionuclides and synthetic halogenated organic molecules. It is time to start reversing that trend. We won’t achieve that while we continue to incinerate waste.

Juliet Duff,
Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association (IDEA)


British Society for Ecological Medicine Report (2005) The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators can be downloaded from the

WHO, EUROPE, fact sheet euro (04/2005) Berlin, Copenhagen, Rome,Particulate matter air pollution: how it harms health, can be downloaded

The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators

download PDF : IncineratorReport_v3

Government space cadets…

120313_NSL_Forget Herostratus_Fringe re-run_press release_1

On the road to the e-bus

Clear the Air says:

the obvious choice for Hong Kong is the latest version of hybrid buses. The drive train is electric and the batteries are charged by a small Euro 5 engine that only runs when the batteries run low and will not run when the bus stops to pick up or set down passengers. Braking also charges the batteries. In a perfect world we would have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and a network of hydrogen filling stations here.

Hong Kong, with a wide range of terrain, represents a steep challenge for two mainland-based companies hoping to develop electric buses suitable for the city

Cheung Chi-fai 
Mar 23, 2012

There’s still a long way to go towards eliminating Hong Kong’s air pollution but two mainland-based makers of electric buses are about to take the city further along the road towards blue skies.

BYD, backed by US investment expert Warren Buffet, and fast-growing Great Dragon – a joint venture between mainland bus maker Yixing and Global Electric Vehicles, owned by locally-listed Dah Chong Hong – have shown keen interest in developing vehicles suitable for Hong Kong.

They believe the city is ideal for developing right-hand-drive vehicles for sale in larger markets such as Britain, Australia and India.

Both companies are set to test-drive pilot vehicles designed with Hong Kong’s conditions in mind – more than 10 years after disappointing results from plans to introduce electrically powered vehicles in a city choking on its exhaust fumes.

“We are going to make a perfect bus for the Hong Kong market,” said Paul Lin for BYD, which is carrying out commissioning tests on a bus assembled at its Changsha production plant.

Raymond Lo Yuk-shun, Great Dragon’s managing director, said tailoring electric buses to a specific locale was the key to capturing the Hong Kong bus market. “You just can’t have one design to meet all the needs. You have to fine-tune each bus for special needs.”

In 2001, some 14-seat electric minibuses were tested for six months, along with minibuses running on liquified petroleum gas. The electric buses were badly outperformed by the latter. They couldn’t travel as far, were difficult to charge, spluttered going uphill and were expensive to maintain.

Two years later, an estate at Ma Wan introduced an electric single-decker bus for its shuttle service. Three of the buses were retired within two years, and the last one in 2010. The buses were said to run inefficiently and most of the time were sidelined for maintenance.

Not only must an electric bus meet legal requirements – technical and safety standards governed by road-traffic regulations – but it must suit Hong Kong’s operating environment. And it must be reliable enough to transport millions of commuters every day.

One of the biggest concerns with electric buses is their range, which is often limited by the size and efficiency of batteries and the availability of recharging facilities.

With a fully charged battery an electric bus’ usual range is between 200 and 300 kilometres, which approaches the average daily travelling range of each of the city’s three franchised bus operators – Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), New World First Bus (NWFB) and City Bus – who operate about 5,800 of the 13,000 buses in Hong Kong.

In 2010, the vehicles of the three bus firms travelled a total of 440 million kilometres. This means that, assuming 90 per cent of the fleet was used at all times, the daily average travelling range of each of these 5,800 buses was around 230 kilometres (KMB 246 kilometres, NWFB 205 kilometres City Bus 253 kilometres).

In reality, the terrain can vary tremendously depending on the routes, making the suitability of electric buses much more complicated. For example, with a driving range of about 200 kilometres, an electric bus can handle 87 trips without recharging on KMB’s short 71B route, which runs about 2.3 kilometres within Tai Po new town. But a similar bus could only make four trips on KMB’s longest route, a 50-kilometre trip from Fanling to Wan Chai.

Driving range is just one consideration. Climbing power is the weakest link for electric buses – making Hong Kong a steep challenge.

“Forget about getting up to The Peak on an electric bus for the moment,” said Lo. “The battery can barely support the vehicle to finish the trip.

“Even if it can, the bus might need power replenishment right away at a terminus.”

A complete transition to electric buses in Hong Kong could take years. Until then, Lo predicts, the city’s streets would see a mix of power sources for buses.

“It will still take us a long time to replace these buses, perhaps 10 to 20 years, I don’t know,” he said. “But this is going to happen sooner or later, when technology advances could lower the battery weight by as much as half.”

Apart from right-hand drive, Lo said, electric buses for Hong Kong would require larger batteries and motors than those for the mainland. They’ll need greater power to handle the hills, high volume of passengers and need for air conditioning.

But a larger battery could mean fewer seats or a small luggage area, because the weight of the bus must not exceed the legal standard of 16 tonnes for a single decker – a rule that might have to be relaxed in the long term.

Where and how the battery cells are installed in a bus is another concern, because Hong Kong buses have to pass a tilt test – no flipping when tilted sideways at up to 35 degrees. Improper battery location might be dangerous.

Chinese University, located on top of a hill off Ma Liu Shui, is planning to introduce two electric buses under the city’s pilot Green Transport Fund, set up to support the testing of green and innovative technologies for public transport and goods vehicles.

The university is getting a crash course in the vehicles’ pluses and minuses.

“The ability to climb is a very crucial factor in selecting an electric bus,” said Joseph Chan Ping-tak, the university’s environmental sustainability manager. But that strong climbing power and better driving range might come at the expense of passenger capacity and even the provision of air conditioning.

“We hope we don’t have to make such a trade-off since we are not sure if the bus will be designed in a way that the windows can actually be opened,” Chan said, adding that none of the 14 diesel-run buses they have now were equipped with air conditioning. On average each bus can pack in as many as 60 students, mostly standing.

Great Dragon is now going full steam ahead to develop and build 16 electric single-decker buses early next year for trials by organisations awarded subsidies under the Hong Kong government’s Green Transport Fund.

The procurement has yet to be determined after a public tender, but Lo is confident of winning its bid. “We believe we are at least three to five years ahead of our rivals,” he said.

One likely rival is BYD, which signed a memorandum with KMB to supply an electric bus for trials that were to start late last year, but were then postponed to allow more time to develop the vehicles.

Lin denied that the early move was a public relations ploy for BYD, which has been plagued by plunging sales on the mainland for its electric cars. “It makes no sense to develop a right-hand-drive bus in a left-hand-drive market, and that’s why we think the Hong Kong market is very important to us. This is definitely not a public relations war,” Lin said.

KMB is also looking at another technology – a super-capacitor bus used at the World Expo in Shanghai. This bus doesn’t need a huge battery and has a small travelling range of only 50 kilometres when fully charged. But, by using a pantograph – an extendable mechanical link – on the bus roof, it can be recharged every time it stops at a bus stop equipped with an overhanging power cable. A 30-second charge is said to provide power to go one kilometre.

The bus, nicknamed gBus, has been tested by KMB for internal use since 2010. While the bus firm said the test was satisfactory, it plans to introduce another prototype with a longer range within this year. And the company also plans to test battery-driven buses and hybrids.

KMB would check vehicles’ power consumption over different terrain, in loading conditions and in different weather, a company spokeswoman said.

Lo said super-capacitor technology had some problems that need to be addressed. “What if there is a serious traffic jam and the buses run out of power and the air conditioning stops?” he said. “It might also need a larger charging station, and a strong voltage power cable might not be welcomed by residents living close to the bus stops.”

KMB said the gBus could have sufficient power to maintain 30 minutes of air conditioning if it was stuck in traffic.

Lo said the West Kowloon arts hub might be an ideal spot for these buses because of the flat spaces and short distances.

Electric-bus makers are not the only ones revving up for more business. Traditional bus makers are devising greener vehicles, too – including diesel-electric hybrids. Both Alexander Dennis and Volvo have rolled out these new-generation buses in Europe, especially in London, where the Olympic Games this year will boost green city transport.

These makers believe the hybrid buses, being so similar to current buses, offer plenty of advantages over electric powered vehicles.

“It is well recognised that given the limited road space and high passenger volumes, Hong Kong needs double-deck buses. This represents an even greater challenge in the context of an electric vehicle,” said a spokesman for bus maker Alexander Dennis in Hong Kong.

Don’t swallow the line that an incinerator is a necessary evil

SCMP – 23 March, 2012

On Monday, the Legislative Council panel on the environment begins listening to reports on the administration’s progress on waste management, which includes an update on its plans for an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau. This has aroused opposition from various groups objecting to the location, which is on a site of natural beauty, and the type of technology, which they fear is expensive and will add to air pollution.

There have been calls for the use of plasma arc technology, which is cleaner and produces energy that can be sold, resulting in cheaper and more efficient waste disposal.

The Environmental Protection Department insists that plasma arc is not suitable for Hong Kong, and is only used in disposing of highly toxic waste in small quantities. Yet this flies in the face of abundant evidence elsewhere.

New York recently asked for proposals for a waste-to-energy facility that specifically excluded the kind of moving grate mass burn incinerator that the EPD wants. Plasma arc technology incinerators are either in use or being built in Shanghai, Hainan, India, Britain, the US, Mexico and Japan.

Meanwhile, Imperial College London is carrying out a survey of traditional incinerators on behalf of Britain’s Health Protection Agency after fears emerged over health risks, particularly for children. The study was commissioned after a high incidence of infant deaths among those living downwind from incinerators.

Another report shows people living in Detroit, the location of the world’s largest incinerator, are three times as likely to be hospitalised with asthma compared with the state of Michigan as a whole. The city’s asthma death rate is twice that of the state.

A study in the US shows plasma arc waste to energy projects can break even in terms of running costs when munching through 180 to 270 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day, and profitable if more waste is processed.

It seems odd that the EPD maintains the view that plasma arc can only be used for small quantities of waste while the US branch of its consultant Aecom appears to differ. “We believe that this technology is not only environmentally friendly, but ready for large-scale commercialisation,” says Aecom’s Mike Zebel in the US.

Why does Aecom sing a different tune in Hong Kong? Hopefully, Legco will get some answers out of the EPD and will not fall for its line that the incinerator is a necessary evil.

Talking rubbish

Looking through the papers on waste management submitted to the environmental panel, we came across one from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. The institute’s considered wisdom is that the government’s proposed facility should “be a demonstration and education centre for sustainable development, incorporating sustainable lifestyle experience such as organic farming, organic food restaurant, swimming pool and spa, and education centre operated as a social enterprise”. And like the proverbial rabbit in charge of the lettuce patch, it urges that “the architecture of such facility should be of the highest quality”. More fuel for the incinerator perhaps?