The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers generally supports the government's proposed environmental infrastructure projects on extension of landfills and integrated waste management facilities. They are collectively an essential, sustainable waste management strategic measure to tackle the local imminent waste challenge.
We consider that a landfill should be the last resort in waste management measures and suggest the government reviews the scale of expansion of the landfill site regularly after the feasible initiatives on waste reduction/recycling have been fully implemented. An independent task force on monitoring and auditing the progress and effectiveness of the waste reduction measures should be set up.
With its high reliability and track record, we believe that the advanced moving-grate incineration technology is the most suitable one for the proposed integrated waste management facility to reduce solid waste. We also support the adoption of this technology for the waste management facility at an artificial island near Shek Kwu Chau.
This modern technology can ensure better control of air emissions.
However, to address public concerns on the possible impact, the government should provide more real-time measurements and data on emission and air quality near the proposed site and its surrounding regions for public information and surveillance. We would also suggest officials thoroughly review and streamline the operation mode of the facility, as overseas experiences in operating incineration plants show that higher emissions are recorded during its start-up/shutdown.
It is projected that a considerable amount of electricity can be generated during the waste-to-energy process from the plant, and so we would propose that the government liaises with the affected communities for better utlising this output for the community's benefit and enhancing environmental protection.
Meanwhile, the government should also conduct a feasibility study and research on recycling the residual ash generated from the plant into usable materials in order to lower the burden on the landfill sites and to reduce the demand for raw natural materials.
The institute wants to see different stakeholders working hand in hand to solve the controversial issues with a view to formulating optimal, multi-pronged waste management measures that can be accepted by all parties in the community to solve the imminent waste crisis in Hong Kong.
Raymond Chan Kin-sek, president, Hong Kong Institute of Engineers