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Germany 357,114 km2 area versus Hong Kong’s area 1,104 km2

Clear the Air says:
One size does not fit all.
Germany has a legally binding ‘reduce recycle and reuse’ system for years whilst Hong Kong has prevaricated. So successful in fact that Germany’s incinerators have massive over capacity and insufficient MSW supply so they now import waste from the rest of the world to feed the incinerators.(note: 62% of dioxin and furans annual emissions come from incinerators at start up and shut down phases based on 3 maintenance shutdowns per year)
In addition Germany has a land area of 357,114 low rise square kms with abundant wind and solar power generation  versus Hong Kong’s 1,104 square kms which encompasses numerous outer islands and the densest populated square mile on earth in Mongkok,  coal power generation and thanks to the success of Shenzhen and Hong Kong ports, the most polluting ship bunker fuel emissions in the world blowing across our shores with no Emissions Control Area.
EIA Report Omissions ?
Sadly we could not find any reference to the 3 new Shenzhen incinerators (which will be operational by 2015)  in the Government’s EIA report on the Shek Kwu Chau / Tsang Tsui proposed incinerator – why is that we wonder – perhaps Edward Yau was not aware of these facts like the rest of his seemingly unaccountable portfolio ? – the Government tells us that the prevailing winds are from the north in excess of 80% per year which means that the PM10, PM2.5 and ultrafines, dioxins, furans and other toxic emissions from Shenzhen’s new 6,300 mt per day incinerators  will further pollute our air – so the HK Government’s incinerator EIA is fundamentally flawed from the outset by these inexplicable omissions.
No current incinerator bag house , scrubber or other technology exists to prevent PM2.5 emissions that come from combustion processes. Hong Kong’s PM10 and PM2.5 levels are already some of the worst in the world.
UK sees the nexus.
The UK Government has commissioned a report by Imperial College to study alarming deaths and birth defects in areas adjoining and downwind of  incinerators.

“Affluent Chingford Green ward in Waltham Forest has the second highest average number of child deaths in London. It happens to be close to Britain’s largest incinerator. “If it’s all about poverty, then how come the levels of infant mortality in countryside areas, where wages have always been below average, aren’t high?” asks Mr Ryan.

Now, to cries of “at last” from Mr Ryan, HPA head Justin McCracken has said that following discussions with Professor Paul Elliott, head of the Small Area Health Statistics Unit at Imperial College, it has been “concluded that an epidemiological study of birth outcomes around municipal waste incinerators would produce reliable results. Work is now progressing in developing a detailed proposal for what will be a complex study.”

In 2004, a study in Japan found a “peak decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined”.
Meanwhile we agree with the HK Government’s appointed waste consultants AECOM: perhaps Edward Yau should listen to them ?

“The site AFE has chosen for this project is well suited for this facility”, said Mike Zebell P.E. of AECOM (NYSE:ACM), a Fortune 500 company serving clients in more than 100 countries and a global provider of professional technical, environmental and management support services. “We believe that this technology is not only environmentally friendly but ready for large-scale commercialization. We are excited to partner with an entrepreneurial firm like AFE, one of the industries’ leading developers focused on building environmentally responsible energy projects using plasma gasification technology.”


Germany’s Booming Incineration Industry

Burning the World’s Waste

By Udo Ludwig and Barbara Schmid,1518,467239,00.html

A booming new industry has quietly emerged in Germany. Waste incineration firms are importing massive amounts of toxic waste. Now public opposition is mounting against the burning of highly contaminated waste from Australia.

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Greenpeace protesting against a shipment of toxic waste.

The trip was planned as meticulously as if a government leader were arriving. The most reliable container ships have been selected for the journey, the crews receive special training and the captains have been ordered to avoid busy sea routes — for safety reasons.

The mission is to ship a dangerous cargo half way around the globe: Four freighters will bring 22,000 tons of hazardous waste from Australia to Germany’s northern Schleswig-Holstein region. The toxic containers can only be stored below deck to prevent any of them falling overboard in a storm.

Once the contaminated cargo has arrived in Germany, it will be taken to special incineration plants by train and in trucks — to Brunsbüttel, Herten, Dormagen and Leverkusen. There, the carcinogenic hexachlorobenzenes from Australian chemical company Orica’s solvent production will be “rendered harmless” by 2008, according to the incinerator operators.

The trip from one end of the world to the other reveals an economic sector that has expanded in Germany largely unnoticed until now: Germany has become one of the major importers of hazardous waste from all over the planet, a giant waste disposal facility for the rest of the world. Munitions waste from Sweden, pesticides from Columbia, asbestos-contaminated rubble from the United States, solvents from China and lead-acid batteries from Montenegro.

Nothing that harms human beings, animals and the environment seems to be missing on the list, which is meticulously kept by the German Environmental Ministry. And the amounts have tripled since 2000 to reach more than 2,000 tons. Import volumes of asbestos-contaminated waste has risen by 400 percent in this period — that of industrial sludge by as much as 500 percent.

Sell us your waste

The reason behind this economic growth consists in Germany’s unusually strict environmental regulations. They’ve ensured that the world’s best hazardous waste incineration plants were built in Germany, which also has the greatest know-how. But the high-tech incinerators only make economic sense if they are used at or near full capacity. Germany’s plant operators would face overcapacities of as much as 20 percent if they didn’t process hazardous waste from abroad.


Hazardous waste disposal in Germany has been on the rise lately.

And since Germans are so eager to clean up other people’s mess, other countries have been able to secretly shirk their own responsibility. The Basel Convention signed 18 years ago saw 170 countries make a commitment to disposing of their waste in their own countries to the extent possible. The convention was originally intended as a bulwark against waste exports to Third World countries.

But the Dutch don’t have to send their waste as far as that. They’ve closed down two hazardous waste incinerator facilities in Rotterdam, since grateful takers are waiting just across the border, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region. They get €900 ($1,182) per tonne. “You’ve got such good facilities,” says Paul Braams from Rotterdam’s waste combustion service. “Why should we spend good money to bring our own incinerators up to date?”

Organizations such as the Association for the Protection of the Environment and Nature (BUND), the German branch of Friends of the Earth, warn against the incalculable risks of hazardous waste incineration and accuse the country’s waste managers of profiteering at the expense of the environment. But Joachim Beyer doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. The graduate engineer is head of the hazardous waste incineration department at Bayer Industry Services. He’s responsible for several special incinerators in Leverkusen and Dormagen. “We have nothing to hide,” the plant director says during a tour of his Leverkusen kingdom, where waste is incinerated at temperatures between 1,000 and 1,200 degress Centigrade (1,832 – 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit).

‘Harmless’ leftovers

In the language of chemistry, what that means is that extraordinarily toxic organic combinations are broken apart. Only scoria remain, solidified in water baths. “You could use them for road construction,” Beyer says, demonstrating their harmlessness by reaching into a pile of dark lumps that look like shredded glass. “The worst danger you face is cutting your hand,” he says. The Bayer corporation deposits the scoriae on the plant’s own dumpsite.


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But something else remains after the incineration process: gaseous components of the hazardous waste that have the tricky characteristic of recombining in the form of toxic furan polymers and dioxins when cooled down to about 300 degrees Centigrade (572 degrees Fahrenheit). “Cracking them for good” is the job of various combustion chambers, rotation washers, condensation filters and a catalytic converter more than 30 meters (98 feet) large, Beyer explains.

The toxicity of what leaves the chimney at an altitude of about 100 meters (328 feet) lies far below the limit values, Beyer says. That toxicity is only measurable in picograms at best — and one picogram is just a millionth of a millionth of a gram.

But scientists insist there is no such thing as hazardous waste combustion without harmful emissions. Harry Rosin, a professor of medical microbiology, even thinks the statements issued by the industry are “stultifying nonsense.”

Even the best facilities release carcinogenic particles into the air, he says, adding that sooner or later, the dirt comes back to the ground, where the molecules are then eaten by grazing cows, thereby returning into the food chain. When that has happened, even tiny amounts of toxins are enough to harm human health, Rosin says.

Experts like Rosin are also convinced that those living close to the incinerators will pay the price for the controversial business development trend of the past years. Residents have been convinced “that the facilities are indispensable for the region,” says Günter Dehoust from the Ecological Institute in Darmstadt. But now they’re finding out “that waste from all over the world is being purchased because of overcapacity.”

Citizens against waste

In Brunsbüttel, citizens are resisting the transformation of the region into a “global trans-shipment center for hazardous waste,” as the spokeswoman of the local environmental association says. The four ships carrying their 22,000 ton cargo from Australia are to be unloaded in Brunsbüttel. The plan is for about half the waste to end up in the local incinerator. The other half will be loaded onto cargo trains and trucks and transported across the country along a 400 kilometer (248 mile) route.

It remains controversial whether the local facility in the Westphalian town of Herten is even suited for disposing of the chemical cocktail from Australia. “The chlorine combinations might not be completely eliminated in Herten, due to the low incineration temperature of only 900 degrees Centigrade (1,652 degrees Fahrenheit),” says Claudia Baitinger, the waste expert at BUND. Johannes Remmel, the secretary of the Green Party faction in the Düsseldorf parliament, thinks another question needs to be raised as well: that of “whether it’s the job of local waste disposers to acquire hazardous waste from all over the world.”

“Only weakly contaminated waste, such as barrels and other packages” is burnt in Herten, according to Orica spokesperson John Fetter. He adds that “Herten has developed a special method in which 900 degrees Centigrade (1,652 degrees Fahrenheit) are sufficient.”

And so the German Environmental Minister and the local government in Düsseldorf have no objections to the waste deals — on the contrary. “With its very good facilities for incinerating hazardous waste, Germany is assuming a part of the general environmental responsibility,” says Environmental Minister Sigmar Gabriel from the Social Democrat Party (SPD). Gabriel argues that disposing of the waste in Germany is still safer than letting it be improperly deposited elsewhere or dumped into the sea. But in future, the Social Democrat would like to see the waste exporters build their own incinerators — ideally with technology made in Germany.

China — not noted for its environmental concerns until now — seems to want to realize Gabriel’s vision. Two up-to-date hazardous waste incinerating facilities will now be built in Beijing and in an industrial park in the northwest of the country — using German know-how.

A small town in Germany where recycling pays

The less waste households put out for incineration, the less they pay. It’s why Neustadt an der Weinstrasse’s recycling rates are the toast of Germany

Leo Hickman in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse (Newtown on the Winestreet)

The Guardian, Friday 18 March 2011

Article history

German householders are used to separating their rubbish for recycling, so recovery rates are higher than in the UK.Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images

The citizens of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse take their recycling very seriously. So much so that there is even a collection point at the recycling depot for dead animals.

“People bring their dead dogs here,” says Stefan Weiss, one of the town’s waste managers, as he steps into a refrigerated shed and opens the lid on a wheelie bin containing a deer’s head recently deposited by a local hunter.

“All these animals get rendered down at a nearby facility for their fat. It then gets used to produce things like this.” Weiss pulls a tube of lip balm from his pocket.

Located in the south-western state of Rheinland-Pfalz and set in the heart of Palatinate wine-growing region, the predominantly middle-class, medieval town of Neustadt boasts the best recycling rates in Germany. Over the past 30 years, the town has nurtured and refined a system that means it now recycles about 70% of its waste – 16% higher than the state target. By comparison, UK recycling rates average about 40% – up from just 5% in the mid-1990s.

The reason for Neustadt’s success is simple, says Weiss. “It’s all about providing financial incentives and education. We don’t charge citizens anything for the recycled waste they leave out. And the less waste you put out for incineration– we’ve had no landfill in Germany since 2005 – the less you pay.

“Having no incentive to reduce waste is poisonous to your aims. We have a separate, visible fee that is intentionally not embedded within a local tax.”

For example, the majority of Neustadt’s 28,000 households opt for a 60-litre bin for their non-recycled waste. This is collected once a fortnight and costs the household €6.60 in collection fees. If a household opts for a 40l bin, the fee falls to €5.30. Conversely, if they opt for a 240l bin (the standard wheelie bin volume in the UK), the fee rises to €24, or €48 if they want it collected weekly. If they produce higher than expected waste due to, say, having a party, they can buy special 60l plastic sacks for €3 and leave them out by their bins for collection.

When it comes to recycling, householders are asked to sort their items and bag them into three groupings: paper/cardboard; glass; and plastics/foils/cans. The latter grouping goes into a yellow bag and can include anything from Styrofoam and yoghurt pots through to aluminium foil and Tetrapaks. Compost bins are provided for those with gardens to dispose of organic waste. Everything else — batteries, toys, timber, old TVs, tins of paint, dead pets — must be taken to the recycling depot a mile or so from the town centre.

Larger loads of waste – debris from a house renovation, say – can be dumped at the depot for a fee of €5 for loads up to 100kg, although households are limited to one load a week.

Bigger loads command much higher commercial fees. For those without a car, a calendar is provided each year to households marking pick-up days for different types of waste, or private firms are available to take away waste on demand for a fee.

“We started this simple fee system in 2006 and we find it works,” says Weiss.

“We have been sorting our waste since the early 1980s, but in 1989 we joined up with other towns in the region and formed our own waste company to process the waste more efficiently. Our waste costs are actually lower now than when we started and we even turn a slight profit some years when the commodity prices are high. As a non-profit, this money just gets reinvested.”

Further proof that the system works is provided by neighbouring regions which use different systems. For example, one charges according to the number of people who live in the home, whereas another offers one option: a weekly collection of a 100l bin. “These regions both produce 100kg more waste per person per year than we do here,” says Weiss. But he also believes that Neustadt has probably gone as far as it can with maximising recycling. “Getting to 80% would be impossible. There are behavioural issues such as those few people who still mix up their waste. Plus, there is a fixed percentage of people who live in high-density housing without access to gardens or outside storage.”

Gabrielle Stahl lives on a hill overlooking the town in the leafy suburb of Hambach. She didn’t even know Neustadt boasted Germany’s best recycling rates, but isn’t surprised: “We are all very normalised to the system here. There is no controversy or debate whatsoever about our rubbish.”

Stahl, who lives with her husband and shares bins with her mother who lives next door, opens the cupboard beneath her sink to reveal two waste caddies containing vegetable peelings and non-recyclable domestic waste. In the cellar below, the family stores its bottles and “yellow bag” material.

They have paid extra to have a dedicated wheelie bin for their paper and card outside. “The bags kept splitting,” she explains.

One day every fortnight, four lorries pull up outside Stahl’s home to separately collect each waste stream. “If they miss a bag, you just ring them up and a car comes back to collect it. Once or twice a year, I will drive down to the depot and get rid of things like old furniture or a broken appliance, but that’s it. And in the summer, I buy a chemical patch from the supermarket to stick on the inside of the bin to kill the flies and maggots.

“The only thing that could be improved is that I would like a separate collection for organic waste as sometimes I produce too much for my compost heap.”

Back at the recycling depot, Stefan Weiss moves on to the subject of enforcement. Or rather, the lack of it. “In theory, we have the power to fine people if they don’t sort their waste. But we never do this because it costs too much to investigate. And we just don’t have an issue with flytipping because we make the system so cheap and easy to use. We still get the odd complaint about the move to fortnightly collections, or that our bins are ugly, but that really is about it.”

A car towing a trailer full of construction waste pulls up at the weigh-station by the entrance gate. Weiss wanders over to inspect the contents. “This weighs about half of tonne. It will cost €270 to dump it as it is. Or if the car owner sorts it into separate types of waste — timber, paper, plasterboard etc — it will cost him just €17. That, in summary, is our system. We provide a major incentive to recycle.”

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Choi Chi-yuk and Cheung Chi-fai

Sep 15, 2011

Shenzhen plans to build the “world’s largest” rubbish incinerator, capable of processing 5,000 tonnes a day, in an effort to cope with  the almost five million tonnes of domestic waste produced by the city each year.

Lu Ruifeng, the city’s executive vice-mayor, told a group of Guangdong provincial People’s Congress delegates on Tuesday that because its landfills could no longer cope with the growing trash pile produced by its 13 million residents, the city was planning to build the world’s largest incinerator, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.

Lu said public consultations had been held on site selection. He admitted that where to put the incinerator was one of the most

challenging problems for the project.

The Nanfang Daily said Shenzhen planned to build three waste incinerators by 2015 to burn 80 per cent of the city’s rubbish. It said two of the plants would be in Laohukeng and Nanshan district, both in the west of the city, with the third to be built at an unspecified site in the city’s east.

A report in the Guangzhou Daily said Shenzhen had three waste incineration plants in the pipeline, capable of processing a total of 6,300 tonnes of rubbish a day.

Lu said that in order to meet environmental protection standards for the incinerator’s emissions – smell, liquid, ash residue and airborne ash particles – it would make use of mechanical grate technology to improve combustion. It would also adopt advanced management and stick to the highest global air quality standards, the Nanfang Daily reported.

It said Shenzhen was dealing with 4.8 million tonnes of trash a year.

Michelle Au Wing-tze, senior environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), said Shenzhen was taking a wrong path in waste management.

“Guangzhou has just started to ask people to separate and recycle waste, but Shenzhen is heading in the opposite direction,” she said.

“It is definitely not an image boost to tell others the incinerator will be the world’s largest.”

Au said that if the incinerator had any adverse environmental impacts, like dioxin pollution, it would not just hit Shenzhen and Hong Kong but could spread far beyond the region.

Last year, the daily per capita waste disposal rate in Shenzhen was 1.26kg, compared to 1.28kg in Hong Kong and 0.77kg in Guangzhou.

Hong Kong is also planning to build a large incinerator, with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day, on a reclaimed site at Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau Island.

Environment officials have not ruled out the need to build an extra incinerator to cope with mounting waste.

Waste incineration projects are a sensitive issue in Guangdong, with proposals for new plants often met by fierce local demonstrations, forcing plans to be put on hold. In January, more than 1,000 residents from two districts of Guangzhou staged separate protests against incinerator projects near their neighbourhoods.

Growing environmental awareness among mainlanders as living standards have improved in recent years have fuelled more protests over environmental concerns.

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

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