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Waste Management in the European Union . Module 2. What can Hong Kong learn from the European model?. Q/A. Can pizza boxes be recycled? . - Click and watch the video “How is paper recycled?”, Recycle Now Campaign -. Why is waste a problem?.

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waste management in the european union

Waste Management in the European Union

Module 2

What can Hong Kong learn from the European model?

  • Can pizza boxes be recycled?

- Click and watch the video “How is paper recycled?”, Recycle Now Campaign -

Why is waste a problem?

- Click and watch the video “'TRASHED trailer (2012) : Environmental documentary with Jeremy Irons", Trashed Film -

Why is waste a problem?
  • Waste is one of the principal generators of methane, a potent greenhouse gas → global warming
  • Hygiene → a threat to public health
  • Waste consists of useful resources (energy, paper, oil, precious metals, etc.) → exploitation of natural resources; unsustainable development
waste management as an urgent issue
Waste management as an urgent issue
  • The three landfills in Hong Kong will be full within a decade!

The Tseung Kwan O landfill

Source: Bloomberg

would hong kong be the next naples
Would hongkong be the next naples?
  • Naples’s rubbish crisis

Source:Napoli2010/[email protected]/CC BY-SA

what is waste
What is “waste”?
  • Biodegradable waste
  • Paper waste
  • Packaging waste

Source: Beelitz-Heilstätten near Berlin, Germany

/ [email protected]/CC by BY-NC-SA

Source: Biodegradable waste /[email protected]/CC by BY-NC-SA

Source: Packaging overload?/ [email protected]/CC by BY-NC-SA

  • Electrical and electronic waste
  • Hazardous waste

Source: This is the end/[email protected]/CC by BY-NC-SA

Source: Case: Hazardous Waste/[email protected]/CC by BY-NC-SA

what is waste management
What is “waste management”?
  • Prevention
  • Preparing for re-use
  • Recycling
  • Recovery
  • Disposal (as last resort)


Make the best of waste

Minimize the amount of waste

  • Examples in the EU
  • Reduce paper waste: Stop Pub (France)
  • Reduce food waste: Love Food Hate Waste– Video 1, 2, 3, 4 (the UK)
  • Creative reuse: the European Week for Waste Reduction

Source: EU waste protection best practices

Source: Alfalfa House, V/Newtown [email protected]/CC BY

Econ-labelling: EU Ecolabels

Source: EU

Click and watch the video “EU Ecolabel introduction"

Do you know what “greenwashing” is?

Voluntary agreement in the business sector: the Courtauld Commitment (the UK)
  • Carbon-based packaging tax (the Netherlands)
  • Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system (Saxony, Germany)
  • Green public procurement (GPP) policies: include environmental considerations in the tendering procedures
  • Can you name any measure of waste prevention taken in Hong Kong? What have the government, NGOs and the business sector done respectively?
  • Which is the most/ least effective measure so far?
  • Do you think the government should introduce some compulsory measures like the waste levy?

Source: HK Magazine

Source: Hong Kong Government

2. Preparing for re-use
  • Reuse: using an object or material again for another purpose without discarding it(waste prevention)
  • e.g. bath towels → cleaning cloths
  • Preparing for re-use: very similar to “reuse”, but deals with products which have already been discarded and are therefore considered as waste.

It relates to checking, cleaning or repairing activities which allow the to be re-used without any other


Examples in the eu
  • Reuse centres: Komosie (Europe’s largest social franchise based in Belgium)
  • Online exchange platform: Recipro (based in the UK for construction surplus and re-usable materials)
  • What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?
  • Producers have to consider the whole lifecycle of their products, i.e. when they are discarded, their components should be easily repairable, reusable or recyclable.
  • When you buy a product, how important is its environmentally friendliness to you? (e.g. packaging, materials used)

Source: [email protected]/CC BY 2.0

Examples in the eu
  • Funding for eco-innovation
  • Video 1 (from old TV sets to ceramic tiles)
  • Video 2 (from tyres to noise barriers)

Click and watch the video “Recycling tyres: road to success - business planet

Click and watch the video”euronewsbusiness planet “Protecting the environment can be profitable"

Examples in the eu
  • Enterprise Europe Network: A platform for know-how exchange. Small and medium enterprises receive expertise to turn their ideas into a business
  • An example concerning green business: Video (Giving old tyres a new life - Network Stars Award winner 2012)
Examples in the eu
  • EU’s new bin rulesBy 2015, every household in the EU has to separate their waste into at least 4boxes:paper, metal, plastics and glass
  • In Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire (the UK): households are required to sort waste into 9different categories, see here

Source: [email protected]/CC BY 2.0

Do you know what Lifecycle thinking is?
  • What is Eric’s problem?
  • Draw the lifecycle of Eric on the blackboard
  • How could Eric’s parents have been more responsible?
  • How long have you been using your current mobile phone?
  • How did you discard your last mobile phone?

Click and watch the video:TheSecret Life of a Mobile Phone "Life Pscycle-ology" animation by ECO Innovators

Describe the lifecycle of a smartphone
  • What the factors that encourage people to keep changing their smartphone?
  • Suggest ways to become a responsible consumer
  • What are the difficulties of sorting household waste in Hong Kong?
  • Is the low recycling rate in Hong Kong due to the lack of government support more than public reluctance?
  • Do you think the government should enforce waste sorting through legislation?

Source: [email protected]/CC BY 2.0

4. recovery
  • Examples in the EU
  • 1. Incineration
  • The Spittelau waste incineration plant (Vienna, Austria)

Source: Hunderwasser Fernheizwerk/[email protected]/CC BY-SA

  • Completed in 1992
  • Outlook designed by Hundertwasser (Austrian artist)
  • Equipped with modern emission-purification technology
  • Provide heating to 60,000 households
  • 1903: First waste incinerator was built
  • 1997: Landfilling of waste suitable for incineration (e.g. biodegradable waste) was banned
  • Heat and electricity produced by incineration supply around 4% of the total energy consumption in Denmark
Sweden is so successful in energy recovery that she even imports waste from other countries for energy production
  • Click and watch the video: Sweden turns imported waste into energy by Al Jazeera English
2. Anaerobic digestion
  • Germanyis the European capital of anaerobic digestion: over 6,000 anaerobic digesters
  • Hong Kong (new in this field): Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting Plant and Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme

Click and watch the video: Anaerobic Digestion Animation

  • Should Hong Kong build new incinerators or enlarge its current landfills? Or is there any third option? What are the pros and cons of each proposal?

The already demolished Kwai Chung Incineration Plant(operation from1978 to 1997 only)

5. disposal
  • Many European countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Sweden) have restricted or completely banned landfilling. Some have impose landfill taxes
  • Waste must then be managed in the preparing for re-use, recycling or recovery levels
  • Results: not more than 3% of waste ends up in landfills in these countries. The rest gets incinerated, recycled or composted
  • Why would Hong Kong rely so much on landfills when some EU member-states have already made it illegal?


  • Have you done anything actively to reduce waste as much as possible?
  • Please propose at least eight suggestions to reduce waste (e.g. use refills, bring your own shopping bags)

Life Cycle Mapping Exercise

- Click and watch the video “Life Cycle Mapping Exercise teaching Sustainability in Design & life cycle assessment“