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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


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