Wake up to waste, HK

Wake up to waste, HK

28 June, 2011
Trash systems: HK vs. Japan
Can HK learn from others' success stories?
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Japan has long been recognized as extremely progressive in its waste management, and this has been in part due to the collective efforts of its communities. With numerous waste-to-energy facilities that are local and small scale, waste that cannot be recycled gets burned to create energy that is used for nearby facilities, such as powering greenhouses that house botanical gardens, elderly homes and playgrounds. Instead of viewing waste-to-energy facilities as monsters in the community and adopting a not-in-my-backyard attitude, these facilities are well integrated into the community just like any other building. Before waste actually reaches these energy generators, they have been well separated to make sure only the residual waste is burned. Citizens adhere to strict regulations on food waste, appliance recycling, electronics recycling and more. To ensure waste actually gets separated, families are required to use semi-transparent regulation bags, and mixed garbage does not get picked up by garbage trucks. By promoting recycling industries, eco-towns have been developed which help the recycling businesses and stimulate local economies.

one of Hong Kong’s greatest environmental and political issues is the fact that landfills are effectively full. A number of measures are being taken to make sure waste gets put somewhere, but a truly effective solution has yet to be put in place. An integrated waste management facility is being discussed, which would be used for recycling of food waste and plastics. Biogas generation is another measure, which has included a pilot project for generating energy from food waste. The idea of incinerating waste has been in discussion for many years, with plans to implement either on Shek Kwu Chau or at the Tsing Tsui Ash Lagoon in Tuen Mun. However, there has been tremendous amount of opposition to the incinerator, for fear of dioxins being churned out into the local area, stalling plans for development. Without incineration as part of the waste management solution, more space will need to be allocated for landfill expansion… not a popular option. With land in Hong Kong at a premium, no one wishes to allocate valuable sace to be filled with garbage.
One overdue solution is for Hong Kong to take measures to improve on its recycling rate. The domestic recycling rate is only 31%. It will take many years of education, starting at the earlier grades in the education system for Hong Kong residents to realize that waste does not have to be something that is ‘out of sight and out of mind’, but well integrated into our daily lives so that minimizing waste and more creatively recycling waste can be encouraged and implemented.
Image via: http://swamplot.com/tag/fresno/

By: Ecozine Staff
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