Municipal solid wastes (MSW), in particular the organic fraction, could be a valuable source of energy.

There are three sources of municipal solid waste in Hong Kong:

  • Domestic solid waste, which comes from households and public areas, including waste collected from residential buildings, litter bins, streets, marine areas and country parks.
  • Commercial solid waste, which comes from shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and markets in private housing estates.
  • Industrial solid waste, which is generated by all industrial activities, but does not include construction and demolition waste, chemical waste or other special waste.

The amount of municipal solid waste generated each year in Hong Kong is enormous, given that the city houses over 7 million people and is a regional centre of commerce. In 2015 alone, 5.7 million tonnes were generated, of which 35% was recycled and the rest went to landfills.

Waste-to-energy is the process by which the energy content of wastes is converted into heat or electricity using various types of technologies. The major types of waste-to-energy technologies include landfill gas utilization, anaerobic digestion and thermal treatment with energy recovery.

Apart from generating power, waste-to-energy provides an alternative way for disposal of MSW, other than landfill. As land is scarce in Hong Kong, developing further large-scale landfills is not an entirely desirable option. Alternative ways for solid waste management need to be identified. Thermal treatment with energy recovery and anaerobic digestion could be among the options.

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