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Bio-diesel Plant To Recycle Used Cooking Oil

Liz Heron – Mar 02, 2008

A bio-diesel plant that will recycle waste cooking oil from restaurants is to be built in Hong Kong by a Bahrain-based bank.

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain has set up a joint-venture company, ASB Bio-diesel (Hong Kong), with six partners to build and run the plant at Tseung Kwan O industrial estate.

Negotiations with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks on a 40-year lease for a HK$42.3 million waterfront site are expected to be clinched within days.

The plant – the second of its kind in Hong Kong – will produce up to 100,000 tonnes of bio-diesel per year for sale in Hong Kong and Europe. Dynamic Progress International opened a bio-diesel plant in Tuen Mun last year.

Bank chief executive Yousif Taqi said the plant would mainly use cooking oil, waste animal fat and grease-trap waste. This set it apart from the production of bio-diesel from edible vegetable oils, which has caused growing concern over destruction of tropical rainforests.

“This is an innovative investment,” he said. “It illustrates our bank’s strategy to meet clients’ expectations for attractive investment opportunities that are differentiated by sector and geography, and to ensure competitive returns to our shareholders.

“It also underlines our commitment to identify projects that have the potential to add value to the community and positively impact the environment.”

Mr Taqi said the project would have three environmental benefits: reducing harmful vehicle emissions and global warming through the use of bio-diesel; using materials that would otherwise go to landfills; and addressing the destruction of rainforests – felled to make way for vast oil-palm plantations grown to produce biofuels.

Bio-diesel is not subject to the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance because it is not based on hydrocarbons, and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen pledged in his October policy address to introduce a duty-free policy on its use.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said: “We are drawing up a specification for the use of bio-diesel as motor- vehicle fuel. Our plan is to introduce a statutory specification on January 1, 2009. [After that date], bio-diesel offered for sale here will have to comply with the specification.”

The department also plans to require that all conventional diesel sold in Hong Kong meet the Euro V standard, which allows 80 per cent less sulfur than Euro IV diesel, by the same date.

Patrick Siu, senior development manager with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, said completion of the deal with the joint venture on the 18,000 square metre site was expected within “a day or two”.

“In Europe, they are increasing the percentage of bio-diesel in diesel oil and together with escalating petroleum prices, it’s quite an active area for business,” he said.

“We have quite a few firms showing interest in setting up bio-diesel plants at Tseung Kwan O.”

Christian Masset, chairman of green group Clear the Air, said: “If this plant uses exclusively Hong Kong-produced waste, this is a win-win situation. The waste will not end up in the Hong Kong environment and we will reduce noxious emissions from vehicles. But we will be watching the plant closely to see whether it lives up to expectations.”

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