Emissions-safe incineration plants promise relief from landfill woes

Ayra Wang

The waste-to-energy incineration plants will help alleviate the pressure of landfills in Hong Kong while complying with international and national emission standards, an environmental scholar said.

Professor Kenneth Leung Mei-yee, Dean of School of Energy and Environment of the City University of Hong Kong, said that some municipal solid waste cannot be recycled and currently need to be disposed of at landfills.

The city now dumps about 11,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste into landfills daily.

”This is not an ideal waste management method,” Leung said in an interview with The Standard’s sister newspaper Sing Tao Daily.

”In fact, many advanced countries and regions are already using new waste-to-energy incineration facilities to process municipal solid waste,” Leung added.

He explained that the waste-to-energy incineration technology has been in use for decades and has been improved significantly with global technological developments.

”Old incinerators had two problems. First, they caused air pollution because the combustion temperature was not high enough. Second, the energy efficiency of the old technology was relatively low,” Leung said.

But Leung said the technology has matured over the past 20 to 30 years.

”The new waste-to-energy incineration technology involves burning garbage in an incinerator to generate heat, which then powers a generator to produce electricity by steam,” Leung said.

Leung also said the combustion temperature under new technology can reach over 850 degrees Celsius, allowing thorough combustion of waste and effective decomposition of harmful substances like dioxins.

”Even dust, nitrogen oxides and acid gases would be treated in subsequent procedures to ensure compliance with strict emission standards and not posing a major impact to the environment,” he said.

Leung said the emissions under the new technology were reduced to one-thousandth of the previous level back in the 1990s.

He also said that in Japan, many waste-to-energy incineration plants are built near residential areas and some are even in central Tokyo.

In Hong Kong, the government is constructing the city’s first integrated waste management facility, IPARK1, at an artificial island near Shek Kwu Chau, aiming to commence operation next year.

The facility will process around 3,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily, reducing the volume of waste by over 90 percent.

The government is also planning to build a second waste-to-energy incinerator, IPARK2 , with an estimated daily capacity of 6,000 tonnes of waste processed.

Leung said the flue gas emission standards adopted by the two incinerators will adhere to the National Standards and European Union standards to make sure that flue gas emissions will not affect nearby environment.

”With current technology, emissions can be continuously monitored through the flue gas monitoring system during operation,” Leung said.

”Relevant environmental monitoring data will also be uploaded for public reference ,” he added.

Upon completion of the two incinerators, a total of 9,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste can be processed daily in Hong Kong. Coupled with the government’s ongoing efforts to promote waste reduction and recycling, Hong Kong is expected to achieve the goal of “zero landfill” by around 2035.


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