HONG KONG is in danger of missing out on new technology because of bureaucracy and civil servants' fears of being accused of bribery. Small firms with technology that is being tried elsewhere leave Hong Kong empty-handed as officials admit there is no procedure for trying out their equipment on a small scale. Company offers to run pilot tests are turned down because ''we have no rules for handling that kind of offer''. ''If there's no procedure, it just doesn't happen,'' said one official. He said civil servants feared facing corruption accusations if they allowed the firms to show off their processes. Instead, the Government would spend millions on consultancy reports on technologies for a particular problem, which took years to analyse before companies were asked to tender for jobs - by which time the processes had moved on. Lisa Hopkinson from Friends of the Earth said the group had found the Government reluctant to try new processes for handling sewage sludge. Yet, it put 12 million cubic metres of sludge each year into precious landfill space. A small United Kingdom firm, Sherwen Green, last week gave up efforts to build a pilot plant at its own expense to test its method for burning sludge with ash to produce building aggregate. The principal environmental protection officer for solid waste control, Paul Holmes, said other countries were testing high-temperature sludge melting, which seals in the toxic metals and produces building material, ''in all sorts of building projects''. Bricks made from rubbish are used in various districts of Beijing, and pilot plant research is being conducted in Singapore. The synthetic aggregate product was lighter than stone, making building cheaper, and its thermal properties helped cut energy use. It cost more than stone, but could be made in whatever size and shape was required and ''you don't have to dig a hole in the ground'', Mr Holmes said. But Sherwen Green's managing director, Terry Green, returned to Britain last week after trying since September 1992 to get the Government to give him the go-ahead to test his process. He had a site and supply of sewage lined up for the trial, but needed a final thumbs-up from the Environmental Protection Department. A frustrated Dr Lau May-ming of the department's waste policy group said she had been trying to help, but she had no staff to go to look at the technology used in the UK, and she was worried that it might not be economically viable. But Mr Green said trials would not commit the Government to anything. ''I want to run trials to see what's possible. I'm not trying to sell them anything,'' he said. ''All I want is a written statement that the Government wants the trials conducted, but I'm getting to the point where I've got to go home. I can't wait here any more,'' he said last week. Mr Green said he had tried to contact Governor Chris Patten, but his calls had always been returned to the civil service system. ''I firmly believe that Hong Kong is an ideal place for [this process], but nobody seems to be willing to stick their head above the parapet.''