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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:48pm
NewsHong Kong

From unwanted bottles to useful bricks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 3:56am

When bottles arrive at Tiostone Environmental in Tuen Mun, they are crushed into glass sand which is mixed with fly ash from power plants and some other construction waste products to form bricks.

"There's no heat or fire involved in the whole process," says Dixon Chan, Tiostone's director.

Some companies, including Coca-Cola and Kowloon Dairy, reuse their glass bottles several times before sending them to Tiostone for recycling.

Tiostone, which began operating in 2005, produces between 10,000 and 15,000 square metres of bricks a year, which are mostly used for paving. At present, the company's biggest buyers are government contractors.

Tiostone ecobricks have been put to use in redeveloping Kai Tak, and are often used to pave emergency vehicle access roads.

"They can sustain the load of a fire truck," he says.

As with most green products, ecobricks are more expensive than their non-recycled counterparts, especially those from the mainland.

"You have to compare apples to apples," says Chan. "We are not on the same page as the Chinese bricks. They are low-strength, do not meet the standard and have very bad colour."

Chan says Tiostone has the capacity to process more waste glass, but finding a market willing to pay for the product has proved difficult. He is urging the government to adopt a green procurement programme to ensure all new government developments use ecobricks and other green building materials.

Another challenge the company faces is high premiums for workers' insurance. It's a common issue in the recycling industry, as new technologies and processes make insurers wary.

"It's a very big disadvantage to all recycling businesses in Hong Kong," says Chan.


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This Tiostone concept emanated from the HK Polytechnic where Dixon Chan & Chi Sun Poon wrote papers on incorporating waste materials into Eco-glass bricks
However they use flyash in the product & the jury Is still out on whether such can be encapsulated
without leaching the toxic heavy metals found in flyash from coal combustion.
60 minutes video on coal ash
"Even the EPA has promoted the reuse of coal ash in manufacturing, but an inspector general’s report issued earlier this year found that in allowing the reuse of coal ash, the agency had not sufficiently assessed the environmental risk of a material which, in its second life as a wallboard or a road surface, still contains the original toxic compounds. (Care to re-do the baby’s room with sheet rock that contains dioxins, lead, mercury and cadmium?)"
"On November 2, 2009 the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced in a report that a formal investigation into the EPA's "partnership" with the coal industry to market coal ash reuse in consumer, agricultural & industrial products was underway. The report also criticized the EPA for not releasing a report about cancer risks associated to the exposure of coal ash until March of 2009, a full seven years after the study was completed."


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