Firm has cheaper waste option

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 1:29am


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I refer to Jake van der Kamp's column ("Time to put an end to the squandering", February 5) where he talks about government bureaucrats spending our budget surpluses on big infrastructure projects that are not worthwhile. I could not agree more.

I would add to the list of overpriced infrastructure projects the Shek Kwu Chau super-incinerator that the last government tried to push through, despite the public's objections to the location and the technology it was to use. According to the media, at an estimated cost of HK$15 billion, it would have been one of the world's most expensive incinerators.

Green Island Cement has over the last decade repeatedly proposed to the government its Eco-Co-Combustion System, a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly waste management solution for treating municipal solid waste. The waste would be used as a refuse-derived fuel at our existing cement plant. Because of the synergies, the Eco-Co-Combustion System boasts a number of benefits. More waste can be processed than the government's incinerator, as it could treat around 4,800 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day, that is, about 50 per cent of Hong Kong's municipal solid waste per day, as opposed to the government's proposal of around 3,000 tonnes per day. It will create minimal disturbance to the community and the environment, as the system will be constructed at our existing site at Tap Shek Kok and no additional land has to be reclaimed nor set aside for a waste-treatment facility.

Net emission will also be negligible as, according to our pilot plant study, there is no discernible impact on the nearest residences. Furthermore, there will be no residue ash (requiring land filling) as it will be used as clinker in cement manufacturing. Most importantly, the system presents a significant upfront cost saving of more than HK$9 billion compared to the conventional incinerator proposed by the government.

The Eco-Co-Combustion System represents a good example of how the private sector can participate in Hong Kong's environmental development. Instead, notwithstanding the significant economic and environmental benefits of our proposal, the government has yet to grant us an opportunity to be part of its plans for a waste-management solution.

We hope the administration will consider a public-private partnership model to solve Hong Kong's waste problem, and not just strictly adhere to the conventional government-owned, government-funded, design-build-operate model.

Don Johnston, executive director, Green Island Cement (Holdings) Limited