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August, 2013:

Smart glass may mean it is curtains for window blinds

Smart glass may mean it is curtains for window blinds

A “smart” window that can block out sunlight or heat at the flick of a switch may make blinds and curtains redundant.

A dual-band electrochromic material has been developed by linking tin-doped indium oxide nanocrystals to an amorphous niobium oxide matrix. These transparent films are capable of blocking solar radiation in a controlled fashion, allowing daylight and solar heat to be selectively and dynamically modulated through windows.

A dual-band electrochromic material has been developed by linking tin-doped indium oxide nanocrystals to an amorphous niobium oxide matrix. These transparent films are capable of blocking solar radiation in a controlled fashion, allowing daylight and solar heat to be selectively and dynamically modulated through windows. Photo: ANNA LLORDES/LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LAB

Richard Gray

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent

6:31AM BST 15 Aug 2013

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Scientists have created a material that can selectively block out visible light or heat when an electric voltage is applied across it.

By mixing the tiny crystals of the material with glass, they were able to create window panes that could block light from passing through it.

Depending on the voltage they applied, the glass could be completely transparent, could block out only heat, only visible light or both.

It means the dimmable windows could not only be used instead curtains or blinds but also to help control the temperature of buildings during the summer.

The researchers achieved this by combining nanocrystals of tin-doped indium oxide into niobium oxide glass, which is often used to make optical glasses.

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Dr Anna Llordes, who led the research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said: “The resulting material demonstrates a previously unrealised optical switching behaviour that will enable the dynamic control of solar radiation transmittance through windows.

“These transparent films can block near-infrared and visible light selectively and independently by varying the applied electrochemical voltage over a range of 2.5 volts.”

The reason why the glass has the ability to block out both heat, in the form of infrared radiation, and visible light is because the indium tin oxide nanocrystals and the niobium oxide glass both respond differently when an electric current is applied across them.

They are what is known as electrochromic. When a small negative charge is applied to the glass, it causes the indium tin oxide nanocrystals to absorb infrared light.

If that charge is made more negative then the niobium oxide absorbs visible light.

This means that a window can be tuned to simply dim or to block out light altogether.

The researchers also found that combining the two materials into a single glass caused the niobium oxide to block out five times as much light as it would by itself.

Dr Delia Milliron, the principal investigator on the project, said they hoped to improve the amount of infrared light that can be blocked.

She believes the cost could be brought down to produce glass that is just 10 to 15 per cent more expensive than a standard window.

“Integrating our active glass with a solid electrolyte and a transparent counter electrode, suitable for a real window prototype, is the subject of our current research,” she said.

Cement plan not yet viable refuse solution

Friday, 16 August, 2013, 12:00am


Cement plan not yet viable refuse solution

We refer to the letters by Charlie Chan (“Come clean on waste disposal strategy [1]“, August 13) and Frank Lee (“Viable waste management plan snubbed [2]“, August 5), regarding the proposal by Green Island Cement (Holdings) to develop a waste incineration facility in Tuen Mun.

Since the early 2000s, this firm has asked the government to adopt eco-co-combustion technology and develop a facility at its cement plant to treat 4,800 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) each day. The Environmental Protection Department reviewed the technology and findings and made its conclusions known to the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) and the Legislative Council (relevant papers are available online). This technology has not been used for MSW treatment anywhere in the world for large tonnages.

Although the company had conducted a trial at a scale of several tonnes per day for about two months in 2005, it did not cover all the eco-co-combustion process. Also, potential market risk associated with the demand for cement will affect its reliability as a means of waste treatment.

The recommendation not to adopt this technology for the Integrated Waste Management Facilities Phase 1 was endorsed by the ACE in December 2009.

Since there are a number of existing emission sources in the vicinity of the cement plant and it is not far from the population clusters in Tuen Mun, the company should first conduct a thorough environmental impact assessment study to address concerns about the cumulative air quality impact of the proposal if it is to be considered further. This has not been done. Green Island Cement would also need to address the land-use issue and public acceptability of its proposal.

We have told the firm that if it is serious about this project, it must first deal with technical feasibility and reliability, environmental acceptability and planning issues. At this stage, it is premature to state that the company’s proposal is a viable solution readily available to assist in alleviating Hong Kong’s pressing MSW problem.

The government’s “Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022” points out the value of resources that can be recovered from waste.

It maps out a comprehensive strategy and action plans for waste reduction, reuse, recovery, waste-to-energy (modern incineration) and land filling. Each waste management initiative contributes to the whole strategy. We need the joint efforts of the entire community and co-operation with the business sector for the benefit of Hong Kong.

Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection

HK’s wasteful habits filling up landfills

It is ironic that in Hong Kong we are struggling to find places to dispose of our refuse, but we continue to enjoy a life of consumerism.

We face a dilemma when it comes to dealing with increasing volumes of municipal solid waste.

Few Hongkongers seem to appreciate that it is their wasteful habits which have left our landfills near capacity.

At least we take comfort in the fact that the waste-charging scheme is on the way and I hope it will raise people’s awareness about the need to reduce volumes of waste at source.

We must all accept responsibility for this problem.

Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill


GMO challenge

Public consultation on waste charge necessary

Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 12:00am


Philip Bowring says it is “nonsense” to consult the public on waste charging (“Land policy on shaky ground [1]“, August 11).

He sees consulting the public as either a lack of confidence on the part of government or lack of an effective plan to sell waste charging to the public and legislators.

Let me set this straight. The last administration consulted the public in early 2012 on whether the principle of waste charging was acceptable to the public.

Over 60 per cent of respondents accepted waste charging as a concept.

This administration has already announced that it is our policy to charge for municipal solid waste and our aim is to start charging by 2016, as we will need to pass legislation before we can impose a charge.

We have to work out the details of how to put together a waste charging scheme that works for Hong Kong, where 80 per cent of the people live in high-rise buildings.

We also plan to charge commercial and industrial companies for their municipal solid waste.

The Council for Sustainable Development will launch the public consultation process very soon based on how charging could be designed for Hong Kong.

It is critical for successful implementation to have public acceptance of a territory-wide charging scheme.

This is why we need to consult before finalising the scheme, after which we can draft the necessary legislation and put it to the legislature.

Legislators will also benefit from the result of the consultation as to how the public sees waste charging.

We have studied the various types of charging schemes overseas. What is clear is success comes from getting the details right, sustaining public communication so people understand how it works (many questions will arise along the way), and pitching the charge at a level that can garner the widest support.

If Bowring were responsible for implementing a waste-charging scheme, I suspect he would not say it is “nonsense” to consult on the details of the scheme.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment


New York City landfill lawsuit settled more than two decades later

Waste & Recycling News

New York City landfill lawsuit settled more than two decades later

By Jim Johnson

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New York City has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a 22-year-old lawsuit involving children who contracted cancer while living near the closed Pelham Bay landfill in the Bronx, according to local news reports.
The money will go to 12 families that had children develop leukemia, including three children who died.
The solid waste landfill closed in 1979, but not before more than a million gallons of toxic waste was illegally dumped their over the years, The New York Times reported.
Families of the sick children sued the city, alleging New York failed to stop the illegal dumping. City administrations, for years, fought the lawsuit while acknowledging the landfill’s problems. Settlement of the case came as a trial was scheduled to start next month, the newspaper said.


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With its dense population and tightly packed skyscrapers, construction in Hong Kong presents many challenges, not least managing waste. Having implemented a new construction waste management policy in 2006, waste generated by the sector has fallen significantly. What can others learn from Hong Kong’s experience?

Solid waste arising from construction activities is a grave concern in Hong Kong. The latest figures show that in 2011 some 13,458 tonnes of municipal solid waste was landfilled every day, and that construction and demolition (C&D) waste accounted for around a quarter of that. In addition to the environmental impacts, construction waste places tremendous pressure on valuable landfill space in the compact city.


To tackle the issue, a series of construction waste management (CWM) policies have been introduced by the Hong Kong Government. Based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the Hong Kong government implemented a Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme (CWDCS) in 2006. In line with the CWDCS, a levy of HK$125 ($16) is imposed for every tonne of construction waste a contractor disposes of in landfill.

However, the levy will be HK$100 ($13) per tonne if the waste has first been processed at off-site sorting facilities. Further, waste will be charged at just HK$27 ($3.5) per tonne if it consists of inert materials which are accepted by Public Fill Reception Facilities. It is envisaged that this will alter contractors’ behaviour.


Construction waste is often a mixture of inert and non-inert construction materials. In Hong Kong, for example, the inert material, which comprise predominantly sand, bricks, and concrete, is deposited at Public Fill Reception Facilities for use in land reclamation. The non-inert portion which consists of materials such as bamboo, plastics, glass, wood, paper, vegetation and other organic materials, is buried in landfills as solid waste. It is important therefore, that the two should be properly sorted. To this end both on-site and off-site Construction Waste Sorting (CWS) are the two favoured options. However, it is all well-known that construction sites are very compact in Hong Kong and construction works are very demanding. Without enough space and time, contractors were mostly reluctant to conduct on-site sorting, and simply sent waste directly to landfills or public fill reception facilities for disposal.

To counter this, an off-site CWS program was introduced and two off-site waste sorting facilities were set up. Between from commencing operations in 2006 to February 2012, the two off-site CWS facilities have handled a total of 5.11 million tonnes of C&D waste.


Owing to the price difference, there has been a significant shift in the behaviour of construction contractors, who now usually send all waste to off-site CWS facilities, or preferably to Public Fill Reception Facilities.

The first challenge was to make sure that the mixed waste received at the off-site CWS facilities is acceptable for sorting. To determine this there are a number of criteria which are applied. Furthermore, the off-site sorting facilities only accept construction waste containing more than 50% by weight of inert materials.

The qualified construction waste will then enter the first process of sorting (known as Process 1), which is performed by using a Vibratory Grizzly Feeder (VGF). In this process waste which has a radius greater than 250 mm is segregated. Further to this, mobile plant and/ or handpicking is also used at this stage.

Following this, in Process 2 magnetic separators remove metals for recycling.

In the third process the waste is passed through a heavy duty scalping screen, which is filled with holes with the radius of 150 mm. With this screening process, waste with radii ranging from 150 mm to 250 mm can be separated. This is further separated by handpicking and the use of air blowers to remove non-inert materials.

Waste with radii less than 150 mm will enter ‘Process 4’, in which it is filtered by a rotary trommel screen. Similar to the scalping screen this piece of equipment is bestrewn with hollows of radii from 50 mm to 150 mm. The separated waste is further be processed by a density separator, handpicking and air blowers to sort non-inert materials.

Finally the residual construction waste from Process 4 will pass through a conveyor belt so that non-inert materials can be sorted by handpicking. It should be noted that having gone through all four sorting processes, the mixed construction waste is eventually sorted into two piles – inert materials and non-inert. Inert materials will be sent to the public fill reception facilities and the non-inert to landfill.

The two major public fill reception facilities for receiving inert fill materials for reuse currently operate in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun. They are managed by Hong Kong’s Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and have been deliberately located next to landfills.

However, in the future the adverse effects resulting from CWS processes should be investigated and corresponding mitigation measures ought to be taken.


To prevent illegal dumping, which had been envisaged to increase following the enactment of the CWDCS, in 1999 a Trip Ticket System (TTS) was introduced. The system consists of a form which is completed by contractors and details the load of waste for disposal. This in turn generates a receipt from the sorting facility to ensure contractors comply with policy. The system ensures construction waste is properly disposed of through tracking its destination.

The system, which was enhanced in 2004, keeps track of not only the destination of the waste generated by a particular construction project, but also of the route it travelled to reach its destination.


South East New Territories Landfill in Hong Kong currently recieves around 4800 tonnes of waste per day, including construction wastes

In addition to the TTS system, policies such as the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulation and the Dumping at Sea Ordinance are in place to prevent that construction waste is illegally dumped in undesignated places.


On the face of it the changes to the management of C&D wastes in Hong Kong would seem to be a major success. In 1999 the city sent on average 7890 tonnes of C&D waste to landfill every day – accounting for 21% of total arisings, with the remainder being sent to public filling areas. In 2011 it sent just 6% of its C&D waste to landfill, or 3331 tonnes per day.

There has also been a significant drop in the total amount of waste generated from 40 to 70 tonnes of non-inert waste per million HK$ of construction work between 2000 and 2005, to around 20 tonnes between 2008 and 2011. The ratio of inert to non-inert waste also fell significantly.

However, while the inert materials can be used for land reclamation, over recent years there have been fewer land reclamation projects in Hong Kong. Hence, the materials received at the public filling facilities have been transported to the cities such as Huizhou or Taishan.

Promoting environment awareness amongst the whole of society as a long-term strategy has also contributed to the implementation of the off-site CWS program. Society’s awareness toward construction waste management has been significantly promoted and enhanced over recent years.

This forms a favourable institutional environment for improving the management of construction. For example, the CWDCS as well as the off-site CWS program were not introduced overnight, or without resistance. Rather, there has been a relatively long period before these regulations were accepted by stakeholders.

The elimination of loopholes is one contributor, while the increasingly improved societal environment, in particular the environment awareness, is another factor that cannot be ignored.

The CWDCS has been effective at stimulating both on-site and off-site CWS. However, with C&D waste accounting for around a quarter of total MSW generation, it still presents a significant challenge in Hong Kong. In the future, efforts should be made to increase C&D waste recycling to maximise its value and provide incentives to CWS contractors.

Dr Wilson W.S. Lu is assistant professor of real estate and construction at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. e-mail:

This article is on-line.

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Enhanced Landfill Mining

Enhanced Landfill Mining


· Program


October 14, 2013

11.00h – 12.00h

Press conference

15.00h – 18.00h


October 15, 2013

08.00h – 09.00h

Welcome & registrations

09.00h – 9.15h

Opening of the symposium


Session 1: The ELFM concept


09.15h – 09.50h

Joakim Krook, Nils Johansson, Björn Wallsten (Linköping University)

Potential and conditions for mining the technosphere

09.50h – 10.25h

Hans Groot, Nanne Hoekstra (Deltares)

The temporary storage: a necessary step to enable cost-effective landfill mining

10.25h – 11.00h

Coffee break (poster session)

11.00h – 11.35h

Eddy Wille, Tom Behets, Luk Umans (OVAM)

Mining the Anthropocene in Flanders: Part 1 – Landfill mining

11.35h – 12.10h

Daneel Geysen, Yves Tielemans (Group Machiels)

Implementation of temporary storage at the Remo landfill site

12.10h – 13.30h



Session 2: Waste to Resources


13.30h – 14.05h

Matthias Buchert, Günter Dehoust (Öko-Institut)

Enhanced Landfill Mining – the relevant decision tool Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

14.05h – 14.40h

Mieke Quaghebeur (VITO) & Yiannis Pontikes (KU Leuven)

Enhanced Landfill Mining: Material recuperation

14.40h – 15.15h

Coffee break (poster session)

15.15h – 15.50h

M.C.M. Bakker, F. Di Maio, P.C. Rem (TU Delft)

Advances in solid waste recycling and the bridging scenario of land-storage

15.50h – 16.25h

Markus Reuter (Outotec/Lead Author UNEP Metal Recycling Report)

Opportunities and pitfalls for Enhanced Landfill Mining: a UNEP perspective

16.25h – 16.45h

Closing remarks

19.00h – 22.00h

Symposium dinner

October 16, 2013

08.30h – 09.00h



Session 3: Waste to Resources


09.00h – 09.35h

Jan L.C. Manders, Ella Strengler (CEWEP)

To be confirmed

09.35h – 10.10h

Anouk Bosmans, Shivanand Wasan, Lieve Helsen (KU Leuven)

Waste-to-clean-syngas by avoiding tar problems

10.10h – 10.50h

Coffee break (poster session)

10.50h – 11.25h

Chris Chapman (Advanced Plasma Power)

Potential applications of clean syngas produced by Gasplasma

11.25h – 12.00h

Tommi Kaartinen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), Kai Sormunen (Ramboll Finland Oy), Jukka Rintala (Tampere University of Technolog)

Studies on material composition of closed Finnish landfills – potentials for landfill mining?

12.00h – 13.30h



Session 4: Health and Environment

Chairpersons: x en y

13.30h – 14.05h

Roel Smolders, Patrick Bergmans, Ilse Bilsen, Rosette Van den Heuvel, en Reinhilde Weltens (VITO)

Building an integrated toolbox for the environmental health impact assessment of landfill mining operations

14.05h – 14.40h

Maurice Ballard (CleanTechPunt) & Koen Sips (Point Consulting)

ELFM from a locals’ perspective

14.40h – 15.15h

Coffee break (poster session)

15.15h – 15.50h

Steven Van Passel (UHasselt) & Karel Van Acker (KU Leuven)

An LCA/LCC model for the CtC case in Houthalen-Helchteren

15.50h – 16.25h

Closing panel debate “The future of LFM in Europe

Rosalinde Van Der Vlies (DG Environment)

Willem Kattenberg (Nederlandse Rijksoverheid – Dutch Waste Management Organisation)

Lieze Cloots (Bond Beter Leefmilieu)

Joakim Krook (Linköping University)

Jef Roos (ELFM Consortium)

16.25h – 17.00h

Closing of the Symposium

17.00h – 18.30h

Closing reception




Protests predicted at Beijing’s plan to add incinerators

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Protests predicted at Beijing’s plan to add incinerators

Protests predicted at Beijing’s plan to add incinerators

Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:00am



Government says sector will be worth trillions but activists warn move to burn mainland’s rubbish mountains will leave residents fuming

The number of waste incinerators will rise sharply under a national plan to boost investment in environmental protection industries, but environmental activists warn the move could lead to more mass protests as the public grows increasingly concerned about health impacts. State Council announced on Sunday the environmental sector would become a “pillar industry”. It set a 15 per cent annual growth target for energy-saving and environmental protection industries that would see turnover reach 4.5 trillion yuan (HK$5.7 trillion) by 2015.

Promising government subsidies, tax breaks, and stricter environmental standards, the plan also details key technologies that will be championed by authorities to improve energy efficiency and tackle pollution.

Large-scale incinerators with a daily burning capacity above 300 tonnes are on the shopping list to tackle a looming garbage crisis in many cities. The central government aims to incinerate up to 35 per cent of household waste by 2015, up from about 18 per cent in 2011.

Urban rubbish treatment capacity will be expanded to 870,000 tonnes a day by 2015, from 513,000 tonnes per day at the end of 2011, based on statistics from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

According to rough estimates, the number of incinerators on the mainland could double to about 300 to meet such targets.

Mao Da, a researcher at Beijing Normal University of solid-waste treatment, said the waste incineration industry had been on fast track in recent years, but authorities were still turning a blind eye to public concerns over such projects.

Waste incineration is often associated with high emissions of dioxin gases, which are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and cause cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.

Chen Liwen , of the Beijing-based green organisation Nature University, pointed out that mainland incinerators had been the subject of protests.

Last month, Guangzhou residents staged three rallies against a proposed refuse incinerator in the city’s Huadu district, with the largest meeting attracting more than 10,000 protestors.

“There is a prevailing public mistrust towards the government over incinerators,” said Chen, who has surveyed residents living close to incinerators in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Hangzhou .

Their greatest area of doubt is governments’ safety claims regarding incinerators, Chen said. Residents were concerned about operational and management loopholes that could lead to emissions of toxic gases, even though operators of most of the mainland’s incinerators insist they’re using technologies on par with developed countries.

The reluctance of operators and the authorities overseeing them to publish data on emissions only heightened the public’s fears, she added.

Residents living close to two incinerators, in Hangzhou and Guangzhou, were already blaming them for rising cancer rates, but the local governments had not launched public inquiries into the claims.

“As long as authorities fail to address these public concerns, the new push for the industry may lead to more mass protests in the years to come,” Chen said.

Mao said the lack of adequate supervision of incinerators said big new investment in them could result in a surge in emissions of dioxins and heavy metals, such as mercury. Some studies already confirmed such a trend of rising dioxin emissions between 2004 and 2010.

“This actually violates the nation’s pledge under various international environmental treaties to gradually cut emissions of dioxin and mercury,” Mao said.

Activist puts case for artificial beach review

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Activist puts case for artificial beach review

Activist puts case for artificial beach review

Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong

· 33964f8f27eaf203c57ae2692660eb8e.jpg

Ho Loy (centre) with other alliance members. Photo: David Wong


Austin Chiu

Save Lung Mei Alliance member asks High Court to scrutinise government decision on project

A green activist has asked the High Court to adopt “heightened scrutiny” of a government decision to build a beach in Tai Po that she says is likely to endanger the life of a rare seahorse.

Ho Loy is seeking leave for a judicial review in order to halt the artificial beach project at Lung Mei, where spotted seahorses, classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, have been seen.

Ho, a member of the Save Lung Mei Alliance, complained that the director of the Environmental Protection Department and the Chief Executive in Council failed to exercise their discretion to suspend or cancel an environmental permit granted to the department after the sightings were recorded. Nicholas Cooney SC, for Ho, said the court should adopt heightened scrutiny of the government decision because this case involved “the most worthwhile goal” of protecting the ecology.

Cooney compared the case to a high-profile judicial review mounted by Victoria Harbour conservationists against controversial Central reclamation in 2004.

When the department applied for the permit in 2010, it provided “misleading, wrong, incomplete or false” information, he said. He noted spotted seahorses were first seen at Lung Mei in 2009, a year after approval of an environmental impact assessment report on the project.

The report was flawed, however, because a study had found the rare species existed in waters nearby, he said. This meant an assessment of the impact on the seahorse should have been done at Lung Mei even though there was no sighting of it at that time.

The report said Lung Mei had “mainly low-quality habitats” that did not appear to be “critical or unique habitats for species of conservation importance”, nor did it support significant populations of such species.

The court heard that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department recorded two sightings of spotted seahorses at Lung Mei this year and 27 sightings in four other locations along Tolo Harbour.

“Now we know the seahorses are at Lung Mei, there is or likely to be prejudice to their health and well-being,” Cooney said.

Benjamin Yu SC, for the EPD director, said it was too late for Ho to challenge the report and the permit, which should have been challenged by 2010.

“It cannot be open to the applicant [Ho] to argue that there was information insufficiency at the time of the granting of the environmental permit. There is a time limit,” Yu said.

He said the report did not include inaccurate information because “there was no statement that there will not be species of conservation importance in the future”.

Yu also pointed to evidence from the agriculture department that the biodiversity and number of species found at Lung Mei had not changed significantly since the report was issued in 2008.

Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, of the Court of First Instance, reserved his decision.

Outside court, Ho said she obtained legal aid on Friday. The alliance had raised HK$160,000 from the public since it voiced concerns that she might not be able to secure legal aid.


Lung Mei beach

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