Green fix for food waste mountain

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 1:18am

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Since the Council for Sustainable Development launched a consultation on waste charging, there has been a flurry of media attention on the topic.

While the pros and cons of the proposed charges have been examined in detail, the experts commenting through the media have shown little interest in pursuing rational proposals put forward by members of the public and NGOs on efficient and cost-effective solutions.

James Middleton, chairman of the group Clear the Air, has proposed what appears to be an optimum solution to the disposal of food waste, via our upgraded sewerage system, completion date 2016, at Stonecutters Island.

Food waste generated in Hong Kong is more than 75 per cent water, not suitable for either incineration or composting. Instead it could be collected from the wet markets, malls and collection centres and transported to transfer stations, where it can be pulped in large grinders and poured into the sewerage system.

When the waste water arrives at the sewage plant, it is attacked by special bacteria which remove the biosolids. The cleaned water can then be expelled safely into the sea. The residue solids can be dewatered and shipped to the soon-to-be-operational Tsang Tsui biosolids sludge treatment facility (with an incinerator). According to the experts, the capacity at Stonecutters will be such that our daily food waste would be handled in two minutes.

For small domestic units, it would not take an Einstein to develop a sink-friendly blender that would allow household food waste to be pulped and then washed down the kitchen sink or flushed down the toilet. These blenders could be provided free of charge to those families and elderly living under the poverty line. The cost would easily be recouped via a significant decrease in food waste being handled through the current "pick up and transport to landfill" system.

Could Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing advise your readers whether he is aware of and has evaluated this solution?

Perhaps the Environmental Protection Department is afraid to lose face by admitting that its pursuit of costly and polluting landfill and incinerator programmes has been overtaken by technological advances embraced by other government departments?

The taxpayer certainly has a right to demand that realistic and workable solutions to a community conundrum be fully evaluated and included in the array of possible solutions open to public consultation and comment.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui