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Incinerator The Best Option For Hong Kong Rubbish

Incinerator The Best Option For HK’s Rubbish

Updated on Jan 30, 2008 – SCMP Leader

The government has done what it should have done a decade ago and announced potential sites for a waste incinerator. Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau Island, have been identified as suitable sites. There are objections from environmentalists or residents to both.

Such is the way with waste disposal – no one wants anything to do with rubbish once it is put out for collection. This is why we need an incinerator urgently. Our three landfills will be full within eight years.

Tuen Mun residents have long complained of their district being used to dump Hong Kong’s waste – and are now complaining again. The inclusion of Shek Kwu Chau as an alternative raises other issues. It is near fish-breeding grounds and the home of the pink dolphin. Some might even see it as a smart tactical move by the government. The idea of placing an incinerator there will, no doubt, prompt a strong backlash from the green lobby and Lantau activists, making it easier for the government to sell Tsang Tsui to the public as a more acceptable alternative. A fair assessment of both options is needed.

We cannot however ignore the fact that municipalities the world over have adopted burning garbage as the best option.

Technology greatly reduces emissions, and enough electricity to power thousands of homes can be generated. Incineration is only effective if it is coupled with recycling, however. Experience elsewhere is that an incinerator can take 10 years to build. Apart from construction, environmental impact studies have to be conducted and objections dealt with. Some form of compensation will be needed, whichever site is chosen. If it’s Tuen Mun, perceptions that the district is a dumping ground must be overcome.

Providing better sports and leisure facilities in the area would help. In Japan, parks, swimming pools and sports centres have been built next to incinerators, turning them into attractions.

Incineration is not a perfect solution, although it is the best approach in a city with limited land, like ours. The heart of the scheme, however, must be to create a society that is more responsible about garbage. The 17,000 tonnes we produce each day – up 30 per cent from 10 years ago – shows that we are not.

One Comment

  1. Tomohiro Sato says:

    Japan is world largest incineration country which has 2/3 number of incinerators in the world and 80% of MSW is combusted at incinerators. They emphasize waste to energy generating surplus electricity with huge investment and less employment causing CO2 emmission. Plus nano particles which incinerators can not clean up from emission gas has potential pollutions on any species include human being. Nano particles can go through lung, blood and cells which stay many years. I would like to refer Zero Waste activities in foreign countries some of them community members citizens fought government to stop incinerators. For example first municipality in Italy, Capannori which one elementary school teacher started against incinerator include his pupils, parents and spread citizens eventually could stop construction of incinerator near his city at same time he proposed Zero Waste activities to reduce wastes to landfill and incinerator. Please refer youtube video He got Goldman Prize this year in USA.

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