Hong Kong, which has ambitions to become an international green technology and green finance centre, needs to fill a void in services like certifying the carbon emission reduction benefits of new applications, according to a green-tech entrepreneur. Achelous Pure Metal, which is based in Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, has developed a system based on its proprietary ion-exchange technology for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The carbon particles are processed to make soil-enriching compost and other eco-friendly materials. “We have discussed with green certification providers such as the government’s Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency [HQAA], but they have indicated that there is not yet an internationally recognised measurement standard for this application currently,” said Shawn Cheng, the start-up’s co-founder and R&D director. “We are stuck at the small-scale pilot stage, because without third-party endorsement it is not easy for us to raise money to scale up.” Achelous has been testing the system at collaboration partner Chinachem Group’s properties such as Nina Tower in Tsuen Wan. The start-up said its 16-litre prototype system, which is pending patent, has the capability to absorb the carbon dioxide equivalent of 48 trees in a year, based on its laboratory results. Hong Kong launches initiatives to become green tech, finance centre Cheng said he hoped certification bodies in the city would adopt a more flexible approach when it comes to certification requests from newly developed carbon-reduction applications. “In applications where tailor-made carbon-emission reduction measurement methodologies are not yet fully developed or endorsed, we hope the certification bodies can have some latitude in providing assessments, instead of rejecting the requests outright,” he said. “It would be very helpful if the government’s certification provider can take a lead in developing such methodologies.” On Wednesday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced five initiatives to foster innovation and facilitate fundraising for projects with environmental benefits, as the government looks to transform Hong Kong into an international green technology and finance centre. The government will facilitate green projects’ effort to obtain capital “more conveniently and flexibly” through financial innovations, besides providing green certification and aligning Hong Kong’s certification standards with international ones, Chan said. Such initiatives would help address his dilemma, said Cheng, who has faced similar difficulty in getting another project’s carbon-reduction benefits quantified and certified in Hong Kong. Hong Kong agency plans to lure food and green tech enterprises to city Social enterprise FoodCycle+, co-founded by Cheng – who is also a carbon auditor and environment consultant and educator – has been running a food-waste composting project in Sheung Shui for a decade. In mainland China and some other countries, methodologies have already been established for calculating such projects’ carbon-reduction capacity and for generating carbon credits, he said. However, the HKQAA and other private sector certification firms have indicated that they did not yet have the capacity in Hong Kong to adopt such methodologies, Cheng added. Besides the carbon-capture project, Achelous is in talks to set up Hong Kong’s first facility to recover high-value metals from rare-earth processing plant wastes. Such metals are in high demand in the new-energy vehicle industry and tech sectors. It will seek up to HK$40 million (US$5.1 million) to establish a pilot research and refining facility in a new industrial complex within the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. Being able to recycle cobalt and rare earth from mining waste would reduce the need to mine and refine virgin metals, an energy and carbon-intensive process. “We have explored the possibility of qualifying our projects for carbon credits, but we face one main problem, which is a lack of institutions in Hong Kong that can issue recognised certification for carbon footprint reductions,” Cheng said. HKQAA is developing various new initiatives that will help organisations meet climate risk disclosure regulatory requirements, and support the development of Hong Kong’s nascent carbon credits market, a spokeswoman said. The agency has been contributing technical knowledge and expertise on sustainability standards, including the Shenzhen government’s initiative to develop a carbon footprint certification scheme for the Greater Bay Area, she noted. “We will continue to work with industry experts and stakeholders to shape the standards and policies that will drive a more sustainable future,” she said.