Hong Kong recycler sees pyrolysis as hedge against China's 'green fence'

By Steve Toloken
News Editor / International

Published: July 11, 2013 1:42 pm ET
Updated: July 11, 2013 1:46 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability Public Policy Recycling
Companies & Associations

While China's "green fence" crackdown on recycled material imports has caused some painful adjustments for recyclers, one Hong Kong company is suggesting some relief could come from building a pyrolysis factory to convert plastic waste to fuel oil.

Hong Kong Telford Envirotech Group Ltd., which has three plastics recycling plants in Hong Kong and two in neighboring Guangdong province in China, is proposing to build the pyrolysis plant, which would have an initial capacity of processing 7,200 metric tons of waste plastic annually.

It would start operations in 2015 in Hong Kong's Tuen Mun section, according to an application Telford filed with local government officials.

The company sees it partly as a hedge against recent restrictions on waste material imports into China — including the so-called "green fence" crackdown that began in February, said Joanne Lee, project manager for Telford, in a July 11 interview with Plastics News.

Those February restrictions, which are in many ways the toughest yet in China, have had an impact broadly on Hong Kong's plastics recyclers.

One Hong Kong recycling industry trade group said earlier this month that an estimated 10,000 metric tons of waste plastic that in the past would have been sent to China for recycling has instead been landfilled in Hong Kong.

Officials with the Federation of Hong Kong Recycle told the South China Morning Post newspaper that Hong Kong plastic recycling companies are losing on average HK$200,000 (US$25,800) to HK$300,000 (US$38,700) per month because of the new policy.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory of 7 million people, lacks enough of its own capacity to process the materials, the group said.

Lee said Telford believes its pyrolysis plant can make Hong Kong less dependent on mainland China and other markets for its waste plastics.

Lee said even before the "green fence" restrictions, mainland Chinese government officials would once or twice a year implement new policies that would make it more difficult to bring in waste materials, even for companies like Telford that have proper licenses.

She said the company would likely send lower-value materials like low density polyethylene bags or PVC to the waste-to-fuel plant, but continue to recycle higher-value materials like PET bottles.

She said the material that's now being thrown away in Hong Kong is probably lower-quality plastic: "If the 10,000 tons is PET bottles, it would not be thrown into the landfill."

Telford could eventually triple the capacity of the pyrolysis plant, Lee said. Initially, the operation would produce up to 4,300 metric tons of fuel oil a year.

The company is proposing building the facility at an industrial park for environmentally oriented businesses in Tuen Mun, where the company already has an existing plastics recycling operation.

The project is currently undergoing an environmental assessment, Lee said.

Beyond the new restrictions from mainland China, Hong Kong also faces home grown pressures on waste issues. The territory's environmental protection department says that its three landfills will run out of space in the next six years.

In Telford's initial proposal to the Hong Kong government in January, it said the plant could also help Hong Kong more broadly meet its waste reduction goals, including further developing its local recycling industry.


Comments

Hong Kong recycler sees pyrolysis as hedge against China's 'green fence'

By Steve Toloken
News Editor / International

Published: July 11, 2013 1:42 pm ET
Updated: July 11, 2013 1:46 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Plastics recycling is in full swing behind the scenes at NPE 2015

March 26, 2015 11:00 am ET

Paul Benvenuti walks the NPE 2015 show floor in Orlando with purpose. Keep up or be left behind, because this man has a job to do this week, and he's ...    More

Image

NPE nudges attendees to recycle

March 24, 2015 1:47 pm ET

A public awareness campaign developed by Keep America Beautiful is receiving prominent display at NPE 2015 as part of the show's overall effort to...    More

Image

SPI launching recycling summit

March 23, 2015 5:10 pm ET

The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. announced Monday at NPE 2015 that the plastics trade association will return to Orlando in 2016 for a brand ...    More

Image

Designing a new image for plastics and recycling

March 23, 2015 2:36 pm ET

New York has its fashion week, and so does Paris and Milan. But they're no competition for Orlando this week as student designers who helped kick off ...    More

Image

DuPont exec: Still lots of lightweighting needed in the auto industry

March 23, 2015 6:00 am ET

In that role, Jeffrey Sternberg is responsible for bringing the breadth of DuPont advanced materials — as well as renewably sourced materials an...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events