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Green Policy A Problem

Green policy a problem, says expert

Cheung Chi-fai – Updated on Jan 31, 2009 – SCMP

The government has wrongly believed that environmental protection was just about saving energy, and its green policy might create long-term problems, a leading academic says. Ron Hui Shu-yuen, of City University’s department of electronic engineering, said that banning fluorescent light bulbs could save energy but, without a proper way to dispose of them, would exacerbate another environmental
problem: mercury pollution.

He urged environmental officials to think before introducing energy-conservation policies, and to provide sufficient backup measures to address the side effects of such policies.

“Clearly the government has an incorrect understanding of environmental protection by equating it with energy saving,” Professor Hui said.

He said that without an effective recycling system for mercury-laden fluorescent light bulbs there would be increased toxins in the air caused by used bulbs breaking when they were improperly collected.

Professor Hui said the current recovery system, which relied on waste producers to take the bulbs to the Tsing Yi chemical waste treatment facility, was neither sufficient nor effective.

He said a major overseas light bulb manufacturer was close to commercial production of mercury-free energy-saving bulbs, and they would eventually replace fluorescent light bulbs on sale.

Professor Hui said television sets would similarly lead to more pollution because they also contained numerous toxic substances, particularly the older models that used cathode ray tubes.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said it would “give due weight to relevant
environmental considerations in formulating relevant policy and implementation proposals” of phasing out the light bulbs.

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