• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 5:57pm

Incineration is not sustainable and poses threat to environment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 3:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 3:37am

Waste sent to incinerators, landfills and waste-to-energy plants is a major source of global warming gases and chemical air, water and earth pollutants. Organic food and green waste converted to biogas and fuels exacerbate this harmful pollution while incurring energy losses of up to 80 per cent.

These short-sighted solutions convert our so-called waste problem into the extremely dangerous global warming climate change problem, which a recent UN report has said will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.

This completely avoidable action is perverse and unsustainable, destroying nature, our environment and ecosystems. The earth is sending its own warnings to us with increasing regularity.

Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz told a joke at a recent conference in Macau on the environment. There are two planets, one happy, the other unhappy. The happy planet says, "What's wrong?" The unhappy planet says, "People." The happy planet laughs and replies, "Don't worry, that's temporary."

Atmospheric research pioneer Ralph Keeling has talked about a "fossil carbon to air" problem. Private and public waste interests - which are inextricably linked - are deliberately blind to the catastrophic consequences of their activities.

Hong Kong's proposed mega-incinerator, landfill extensions, the exorbitant biogas energy plants producing unwanted fertiliser, and the world's largest sewage quad incinerator now being tested at Tuen Mun, all completely fail the global warming test by creating vast amounts of "fossil carbon to air".

Two recent articles in the South China Morning Post referred to the Netherlands' waste rates. The first quoted a recycling rate of 80 per cent, incineration at 16 per cent and landfill 4 per cent. The second report gave different figures - recycling 68 per cent, waste to energy 30 per cent and landfill 2 per cent. If local recycling rates were 68 per cent to 80 per cent, then the direct conclusion is that there would be no need for any landfill extensions. This is clearly confirmed by the negligible Dutch landfill figures.

The European Union has mandated that, by 2020, no recyclables or organic food and green waste can be sent either to incinerators or landfills. This means Dutch incineration will be gradually phased out due to the lack of legal feedstock, as will the remaining landfills.

Similarly, incineration is not sustainable and poses a threat to our environment. Combustion and landfills must be replaced by planet-friendly comprehensive recycling.

Peter Reid, chairman, Zero Waste Smart City Resources Association Ltd


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This article is now closed to comments

Ohh its now a harping Quartet!
Picking up just one important issue, which our expert dynamco - and his buddy Howard last week - duly forget to mention: Everbright is one of China's largest builders of 'old fashioned' moving grate incinerators; and the Nanjing plasma plant is built right next door to such terrible plant. Why? Because, as at least Howard Winn quoted Everbright: " Through the introduction of plasma gasification technology as the project's preferred technical solution, it will accelerate the RESEARCH (!) of new waste treatment technology...
Maybe you all should not only cut and paste, but actually read - and THINK ABOUT - what people are saying.
Everbright is correctly considering plasma technology in need of RESEARCH. Hong Kong does not have that luxury.
Talking about MTR - what's the cost and time schedule update from dynamco's pet projects in: Teesside and Edmonton? What about Solena? Finished the Pre-front engineering (going since 2008!)?
Wake up and face reality. Ever heard that one: "If you wanted to get there - I wouldn't start from here"?
What was it I said:
Watch out for a letter from the EPD and/or a vested interest attempting to rebut the obvious.
The "obvious" is that worldwide there are responsible people building incinerators using a proven, reliable, and safe technology - with a FEW projects underway, all COMPLEMENTARY to existing 'old fashioned' moving grate plants, with the aim to harness a technology that works in the lab, but so far has failed at a larger scale. "Obvious" further is that here in Hong Kong we have four, or five sectarian NIMBYs all with a big mouth, but when asked to substantiate their "Google Search Cut and Paste" fail miserably.
is it today the Govt goes cap in hand to the Public Works Subcommittee for their daft burn 'n bury Shek Kwu Chau + bigger landfills plea ?
the DAB already sold its remaining remnants of its backstabbing soul to the Govt & chose to ignore the science & health matters & Zero waste options Govt should be pursuing
The hypocrite academics dependent on EPD research handouts the Govt paraded out should be
publicly shamed
Of course even if the Govt got the go-ahead it would be another MTR type shambles where any money allocated will at least need to double + the $$$ requirement of an island in the sea as the next ash lagoons
Yet more words of wisdom and common sense for the government to ignore. Watch out for a letter from the EPD and/or a vested interest attempting to rebut the obvious.
Since when does this govt. make decisions based on facts? My hopes went up when KS Wong and Christine Loh joined EPD but they quickly drank the kool-aid.
some European countries had flawed plans from the outset & are now stuck with the burners
The whole outdated design was to burn trash to support the lack of power stations
Recycling has reduced the amount of available feedstock
Incinerators are voracious & dioxin/furans emissions occur
-when wet waste causes burn temperature drop below 850 deg C
-when temperatures drop on startup & shutdown / maintenance (63% of yearly emissions)
Denmark has seen the light w/ a paradigm shift away from burning replaced by recycling measures
The result is that the burners in Europe have 2 choices
1- Close down
2- Import trash to burn as a for-profit business producing millions of m3 of CO2 + toxic emissions + toxic ash = this option now used in Holland, Sweden, Germany which import the world's waste to burn
China Everbright has seen the light & is building its first gasplasma plant near Nanjing
Still searching to find this decrepit Govt's Zero Waste plan (they do not have one)
HKG's true recycling level was exposed by China's Operation Green Fence which blocked all the transit trash containers that were forming part of ENB's 'local' recycling figures
Shocking retrograde mess, burn 'n bury policy
'Recycling & Composting Saves Money, Energy & Pollution Compared to Disposal Via
Waste-to-Energy(WTE) Conversion' Dr Jeffrey Morris


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