Too much talk and not enough action on waste and recycling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 3:15am

The reason we are now facing a waste crisis is that the government has wasted so much time.

Traffic congestion, air pollution and waste disposal are all subjects where there has been much talk but little action: much consultation followed by procrastination.

It is a good thing that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration is now showing more will to get to grips with environmental and livelihood issues. However, based on Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung's stunning projections on the number of tourist visitors, this is a rapidly moving target ("Tourists may reach 100m in a decade", January 18).

It is essential that the envisaged household waste charge is on a per individual flat basis, as implementing on per building or per estate basis is unfair and will lead to bitter disputes between neighbours. Anyone who has served on an incorporated owners' management committee will recognise the potential for hostilities.

Poor people do not generate much waste, and any charge will be an imposition on their already difficult lives. Therefore, charges should only be implemented on properties of over a certain rateable value.

Recycling will only work when it becomes a viable business and the government needs to do more on the supply of land and facilities for recycling operations and cargo handling. In your editorial ("The way ahead on tackling waste", January 20), you say incineration and landfill expansion are necessary. This may be true but you have failed to mention the possibilities of also incorporating private initiatives and also plasma gasification technology, which is rapidly replacing incineration in advanced countries.

Government departments have cold-shouldered Green Island Cement's initiative since 2000. This offered the community a fast track in saving much landfill volume. China is already building gasification projects in Wuhan and Shanghai.

These gasification plants convert carbon materials to syngas for electricity generation, and non-organics to a glass-like slag for the construction industry. An additional advantage, which is now very pertinent to Hong Kong, is that gasification offers the possibility of recuperative mining of "feedstuff " waste to return landfills to their original states.

I agree with Tom Yam ("Political pressure led to pristine site being chosen for incinerator", January 22), the community has only ever been offered Hobson's choice, and consultations are a procedural sham.

Frank Lee, Mid-Levels