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April 18th, 2012:

Clear the Air Charity Concert

Hong Kong Waste data charts

Download PDF : Hong Kong Waste data charts http

Reduce, Recycle and Proper Waste Management LegCo EA Panel Discussion on 26 March 2012

Clear the Air says: how can any supposed environmental champion possibly support incineration ahead of waste reduction, recycling and reuse ?? then proceed to hint that Plasma gasification is not a proven technology ? what’s the hidden agenda ?

Download PDF : 120326LegCoLetter_wastes_en

Two locations eyed for waste incinerator

The Standard

Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoon in Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau in south Lantau have been identified as potential sites for a HK$4 billion incinerator to ease the pressure on landfills that are close to saturation point, the Environment Bureau said yesterday.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoon in Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau in south Lantau have been identified as potential sites for a HK$4 billion incinerator to ease the pressure on landfills that are close to saturation point, the Environment Bureau said yesterday.

In addition, the public may be asked to pay for the waste it creates.

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said the current landfill areas will be full within four to eight years and there is a pressing need to seek an alternative solution to waste disposal.

The new facility, while benefiting the general public, will also affect those who live in close proximity, he warned.

“We have to strike a balance, and we will be consulting residents’ organizations during the study,” Yau said.

The 53-hectare Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoon is near China Light and Power’s Black Point power station and has been used by the company to store pulverized fuel ash since the 1980s.

It is also next to the Western New Territories landfill.

Department sources said it would be convenient to dispose of ash residue from the incinerator into the landfills while the surplus energy generated can easily be fed into the power grid.

The second option, Shek Kwu Chau, is located away from population clusters with only a drug rehabilitation center housing about 200 people the only nearby building.

However, reclamation will be needed and this may have an impact on the marine ecology.

The final location will be decided in 18 to 24 months after engineering studies and site assessments are taken in conjunction with district councils and concern groups.

The facility aims to be operational by 2014 with a capital cost of HK$4 billion and an annual operation cost of HK$250 million.

The proposed facility will comprise an incinerator to handle 3,000 tonnes of waste daily, an organic waste treatment facility for 200 tonnes daily, a facility to separate organic waste and a sorting and recycling plant for mixed municipal solid waste.

The projected amount of carbon dioxide to be released from the incinerator is about 0.001 nanogram per cubic meter, while the European Union standard is 0.1 nanogram.

Last year the city produced 17,000 tonnes of waste, which is 30 percent more than 10 years ago.

Friends of the Earth environment affairs officer Michelle Au Wing-tsz said Hong Kong should not rely solely on re-introducing incinerators to solve the waste problem.

Instead the government should speed up its 2006 target to reduce waste through a polluters’ responsibility scheme, waste charges and recycling.

Tuen Mun residents are far from pleased with the latest development, with lawmaker and Tuen Mun District Council chairman Lau Wong-fat urging the government to reconsider the location.

“We already have a power plant and landfills, why can’t they pick another spot for the incinerator?” he asked. “The people are concerned about their health and quality of life.”

HK$25b price tag for new facilities to tackle waste


Cheung Chi-fai
Jan 19, 2011

Environmental officials put a price tag yesterday on their proposed solutions to Hong Kong’s mounting waste problem: HK$25 billion to build new facilities and an additional HK$950 million a year in operating costs.

The amount, set out in a submission to lawmakers, includes the combined capital costs of a mega-incinerator capable of burning 3,000 tonnes of waste each day; two organic waste treatment facilities; and extending landfills in Tseung Kwan O, Tuen Mun and North District.

The Environmental Protection Department provided no breakdown of the costs yesterday. It is not yet known how the expenditures will be funded.

Hong Kong is racing against time to prevent a waste crisis after the government ditched one of three proposals for extending landfills amid strong public opposition.

Officials have said they plan to step up recycling and waste reduction through financial incentives or other policy moves – but an urgent need remains for new waste disposal options besides landfills.

Despite the huge spending, which would be more than enough to build and operate the whole West Kowloon Cultural District, officials have dropped strong hints that the city’s waste incineration capability might have to be doubled in the long term.

Recycling efforts will fall short by 8,000 tonnes of municipal waste by 2015, officials estimate – even under the unrealistic assumption that waste generation were to show no growth in the next five years.

In the past decade, waste produced by Hong Kong people and their visitors grew by 21 per cent, from 5.3 million tonnes in 2001 to 6.4 million tonnes in 2009.

“Having regard to the volume of waste that we generate today, we consider there may be a need for one further integrated-waste management facility of the capacity of 3,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day and some more organic waste treatment facilities,” the Environment Protection Department said.

“We would launch a site search for this purpose while looking into the potential of private sector projects that can provide the waste treatment services.”

The public will soon be consulted about the proposed site for the first waste incinerator in 13 years. The last old-waste burning chamber was closed in 1997.

The two shortlisted sites are Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun, and Shek Kwu Chau south of Lantau. The latter site would take longer to complete as it would involve sea reclamation.

Apart from the two places, Green Island Cement, a subsidiary of Cheung Kong group controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, has been promoting its waste-to-cement technology, which it claims could be much cheaper and faster to build than conventional incineration.

Green Island says the facility would require no more than four years to plan, build and commission, and the capital cost would be only around HK$2 billion, with annual running costs estimated at HK$200 million a year.

The company is unhappy that its cement production plan at Tap Shek Kok in Tuen Mun is excluded from the government’s site selection process for waste incineration.

Environment officials say they would consider the project in the longer term if the company can demonstrate the technical viability of the technology, satisfy environmental impact assessment requirements, and consult district councils.

Michelle Au Wing-tze, a senior environmental affairs officer said it was vital for the government to make sure the tendering process was fair and that it should be “open to all to bid”.

Copyright (c) 2011. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Legal challenge over incinerator plan

18 April, 2012

A veteran activist has lodged a legal challenge over the government’s plan to build a HK$14.96 billion waste incinerator on an island west of Cheung Chau.

Ho Loy, who previously protested against the demolition of the Star Ferry and Queen’s piers, filed an application for judicial review with the High Court on Monday.

The government plans to build an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, located south of Lantau and west of Cheung Chau, as part of its waste strategy. It would be capable of handling 3,000 tonnes of waste per day.

Ho is asking the court to reject the decision to approve Shek Kwu Chau as the site for the incinerator. She also wants the approval already given to an environmental impact assessment on the project to be suspended.

The application names the Town Planning Board and the Environmental Protection Department as respondents.

Ho is not being represented by a lawyer. She previously took part in protests over the demolition of the piers and ran, unsuccessfully, in a Legislative Council by-election. Further details on her application were not available in her court filing.

The Legislative Council’s environmental affairs panel will discuss the project on Friday.

The city deposits 18,000 tonnes of waste into landfills per day – 2.7kg per person – according to government figures, and relies mainly on landfill sites for waste disposal.

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said last week that an incinerator could burn 3,000 tonnes of rubbish per day, reducing the burden on landfill sites by one million tonnes a year.

However, green groups have argued against building an incinerator.

WWF says Shek Kwu Chau is home to rare species of wildlife, including the white-bellied sea eagle. And it says the waters surrounding the island provide a core habitat for the finless porpoise.

(Ho Loy contact )

Grappling With a Garbage Glut

  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Updated April 18, 2012, 12:23 p.m. ET

Grappling With a Garbage Glut

We toss out 7 pounds of trash a day each, spending billions to manage it


Each week, we push our trash to the curb, and it seemingly disappears. But where does it all go: the spent cartons of milk, the computer keyboard fried by spilled coffee, those empty dog food cans?

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to find out. In 2009, they began attaching transmitter chips to thousands of pieces of ordinary garbage. They tossed this “smart trash” into the bin, sat back and watched the tortuous, disturbing path that our garbage often takes: the meanderings of electronic waste as it headed for distant shores, of ratty old sneakers that ran the equivalent of a dozen marathons, of printer cartridges that traversed the continent not once but twice on the road to recycling.



Corbis ImagesAn estimated $20 billion in valuable resources is locked up inside landfills each year.

This clever experiment threw a spotlight on the biggest, costliest, dirtiest secret about our garbage: our ignorance of how much we produce, what it contains and what happens to it once it leaves our hands.

Take the nation’s official trash tally—used alike by environmentalists, businesses and policy makers—which maintains that the average American tosses out 4.4 pounds of trash a day, with about a third getting recycled and the rest going to landfills. These numbers are found in the Environmental Protection Agency’s exhaustive annual compendium “Municipal Solid Waste in the United States”—America’s trash Bible—and are determined by an array of byzantine estimates and simulations, based on manufacturing data and the life expectancy of products.

Our Annual Waste

19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts

40 billion plastic knives, forks and spoons

28 billion pounds of food

Enough steel to level and restore Manhattan

Enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas

Source: ‘Garbology’

But the EPA’s “materials flow analysis” dates back to the bad old days when there were 10 times the number of town dumps and many more illegal ones, with little actual weighing and regulation. Today the business model of the landfill and recycling business depends on precise measurement (and billing per ton), so we have much more real-world data. Using these sources, the most recent survey conducted by Columbia University and the trade journal BioCycle found that Americans actually throw out much more than the EPA estimates, a whopping 7.1 pounds a day, and that less than a quarter of it gets recycled.

So how does America’s trash weigh in? Here are some key numbers from the emerging science of garbology:

Related Video

David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management talks about how some of his trucks are fueled off the trash they collect.

• At 7.1 pounds of trash a day, each of us is on track to produce a staggering 102 tons of waste in an average lifetime.

• Trash has become America’s leading export: mountains of waste paper, soiled cardboard, crushed beer cans and junked electronics. China’s No. 1 export to the U.S. is computers, according the Journal of Commerce. The United States’ No. 1 export to China, by number of cargo containers, is scrap.

• American communities on average spend more money on waste management than on fire protection, parks and recreation, libraries or schoolbooks, according to U.S. Census data on municipal budgets.

As these snapshots suggest, garbage costs are staggering. New York City alone spent $2.2 billion on sanitation in 2011. According to the city’s department of sanitation, more than $300 million of that was just for transporting its citizens’ trash by train and truck—12,000 tons a day—to out-of-state landfills, some as far as 300 miles away. How much is 12,000 tons a day? That’s like throwing away 62 Boeing 747 jumbo jets daily, or driving 8,730 new Honda Civics into a landfill each morning.

On the opposite coast, Los Angeles has opted to construct a garbage mountain 500 feet high, taller than most of the city’s high-rises. This is Puente Hills Landfill—trash as geologic feature, so full of 60 years’ worth of decomposing garbage that the methane it produces is pumped into generators that provide enough power for 70,000 homes.

At the landfill’s flat and dusty summit, a dozen bulldozers and graders swarm every day, backing and turning and mashing and shaping. “More people should see what I see here,” says Michael “Big Mike” Speiser, whose job is to sculpt trash into a mountain with the blade of a bulldozer. “Everything that’s advertised on TV ends up [here] sooner or later, and a lot sooner that most people think.”

Puente Hills is just the largest of the 1,900 municipal landfills operating nationwide. The chief executive of Waste Management, the world’s largest trash company, estimates that there is at least $20 billion in valuable resources locked inside the materials buried in U.S. landfills each year, if only we had the technology to recover it cost effectively.

The U.S. doesn’t have to handle trash this way. Other countries with big economies and high standards of living have rejected the disposable products that make up so much of America’s garbage—in part because European countries hold manufacturers, not taxpayers, responsible for the costs of packaging waste. With that sort of incentive, toothpaste tubes need not come in redundant cardboard boxes and television sets can leave the store with no boxes at all. The average Dane makes four pounds of trash a day, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; the average Japanese generates 2.5 pounds.

Other countries also are shunning landfills. Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark all send less than 4% of their garbage to landfills; Germany does no landfilling at all. Recycling rates there are two to three times America’s, and the rest of their trash goes to waste-to-energy plants.

The preferred mode in Europe is to build not a few hugely expensive incineration behemoths but a larger number of smaller, community-based utilities that burn trash to provide electricity and heat through underground conduits. The technology in the newest plants limits toxic emissions of dioxins, a major issue with incinerators of the past, to levels similar to a backyard barbecue’s. Methane and carbon emissions combined are less than those emanating from landfills. One facility being built in Denmark will be hidden beneath a community ski park featuring three different slopes of various difficulties.

Both L.A. and New York City are considering major waste-to-energy projects, and Waste Management is experimenting with new technologies, including a test facility in Arlington, Ore., that uses a process known as plasma gasification. The technology vaporizes (but doesn’t burn) garbage with arcs of electrical energy that heat matter inside their beam to 25,000 degrees. The process takes place in the absence of oxygen, so many of the normal, noxious byproducts of combustion aren’t produced. Instead, out comes a synthetic gaseous fuel and a lump of shiny rock, not unlike volcanic glass, with toxins locked up inside in relative safety. This garbage death ray reduces trash volume by 99%, not even leaving ash behind—just 20 pounds of obsidian for every ton of trash disintegrated. The process is still too expensive to be commercial, but it shows promise.

Of course, the best way to reduce trash is to waste less in the first place. Cut out disposable plastic bags or bottled water. Buy used or refurbished electronics. Consider whether that thing you’re buying will be treasured for years to come or discarded in a few months. The real sacrifice, even when it is invisible to most of us, is accumulating ever more things that quickly find their way to our costly, growing mountains of garbage.

—Adapted from “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash” by Edward Humes, by arrangement with Avery, a member of the Penguin Group (USA). Copyright © 2012 by Edward Humes.Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that in modern waste-to-energy plants, carbon emissions alone are less than those emanating from landfills.

A version of this article appeared April 14, 2012, on page C3 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Grappling With a Garbage Glut.

Fresh call to halt incinerator work following report of health hazards

9:37am Wednesday 18th April 2012

By Chris Warne

CALLS to scrap plans for a £500 million incinerator have been renewed after a national magazine reported US research claiming the facilities caused deaths and cancer.

An article in this month’s edition of the current affairs magazine Private Eye said research published in academic journals in the US had found a ‘strong association’ between incinerators and ‘overall mortality, cardiovascular deaths and lung cancer’.

Sue Oppenheimer, chairman of GlosVAIN (Gloucestershire Vale Against Incineration), said the article laid bare the threat posed by incinerators to the public.

She also accused Gloucestershire County Council, which is hoping to site a waste burner in Haresfield, of turning a blind eye to the dangers of emissions and said the authority was ‘playing with the public’s health’.

In response, GCC said that it followed advice issued by the Health Protection Agency, which says that incinerators are ‘not a significant risk’ to public safety.

The investigative piece printed in Private Eye said the dangers presented by incinerator emissions to human health were ‘undeniable’ however.

It also highlighted the contrasting approaches of the US and UK authorities to monitoring the levels of potentially hazardous PM2.5 particles emitted by incinerators.

According to the article, tough laws were passed in the US as far back as 1997 to ensure that levels of PM2.5 particles released into the atmosphere by incinerators are kept to a minimum.

But, the magazine claims similar precautions to protect public health in this country have not been taken.

Earlier this year Dr Van Steenis, an air pollution expert who has given evidence to a House of Commons select committee on air pollution, told the SNJ that tiny PM1 and PM2.5 particulates produced by incinerators are responsible for high numbers of premature infant and child deaths in the UK.

He also claimed the particles, which are small enough to be absorbed straight into the blood, caused birth defects, childhood cancers, respiratory illnesses and heartattacks.

The report in Private Eye also cited the findings of a House of Commons environmental audit committee which stated: “The costs and health impact of fine particle, PM2.5, air pollution is almost twice that of obesity and physical inactivity.”

In 2009-2010 obesity was costing the health service £10.7 billion, while PM2.5 was estimated to cost around £20.2 billion, it said.

Speaking to the SNJ last week Dr Van Steenis said the financial burden placed on the health system by PM2.5 emissions made incineration a highly expensive form of waste disposal.

“Billions of pounds could be saved because so many people are getting ill,” he said.

“In the US they have realised this and they have only built one incinerator in the last six years.

“In Los Angeles they have said they are not going to use incineration. They are going to use plasma gassification because it is cheaper and safer.”

The Private Eye article concludes by saying it is ‘surely time to start following the stricter monitoring policies of the US’.

Mrs Oppenheimer said: “The US is usually pretty lax on environmental regulations so if even they feel strongly about PM2.5 particles then they must be convinced by the evidence of the dangers.

“It seems that GCC are turning a blind eye to the science around small particles. They seem to be playing with our health.”

She added: “The article in Private Eye undoubtedly lays bare the threat to the public.”

Councillor Stan Waddington, GCC’s cabinet champion for waste, said: “The UK Health Protection Agency’s (HPA’s) position is very clear – modern well run and regulated municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk.

“The HPA is the national independent body set up by government in the UK to protect the public from threats to health and we will be guided by their advice.”

Urbaser Balfour Beatty, GCC’s preferred bidder, is currently hoping to build a mass burn incinerator at Javelin Park near to the M5 motorway junction in Haresfield.

A consultation on the proposed development at Haresfield ended yesterday (Tuesday, April 17) but anyonec wishing to object to the facility can still do so by writing to GCC before Monday, May 21.