Waste generation is a basic problem of affluent societies. With economic expansion, increasing living standards, and more consumption of goods, people tend to throw away more rubbish until a garbage bin overflows. Hong Kong is no exception to this. The daily per capita domestic waste generation in Hong Kong is huge compared to other Asian cities at the same stages of economic growth.
Also, with rapid growth in population and urbanisation, the annual waste generation rate is expected to reach 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050. To reduce this rate, Hong Kong can play an important part by taking coordinated action on waste prevention, recycling, landfilling, and implementing smart waste management practices.
The Hong Kong government has announced its plans to tackle the challenge of waste management up to 2035. It’s called the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035 which follows a specific theme that says "zero waste city" to conserve Hong Kong with sustainable and green moves.
Smart waste management is a crucial part of the solution, and in this article, you will learn more about it.
Waste management covers all the activities required for monitoring the waste generated in a city. From its beginning through the collection, transportation, recycling, and reaching its final destination - landfill, incineration, or recycling, the whole process thus boils down to reusing garbage as a valuable resource.
Following are some effective methods of waste management. You can even try the process of recycling and reuse to reduce the number of disposable waste materials right at home.
The traditional method of discarding the waste is still effective. A well-designed, sanitary landfill setup ensures environmental sustainability. It's made with different layers - the bottom layer is the liner system, the second is the drainage, the next is the gas collection system, and then the trash itself. The layers of waste and soil in landfills are alternated to scale down the odour and promote rapid decomposition. Landfill techniques require regular maintenance to keep methane and liquid penetration levels under control which may cause significant health problems and harm the environment if not managed properly.
Incineration is the process of converting waste material into gas, heat, and ash by reducing the waste mass by 95 to 96%. Incineration plants can be a good choice for waste management for areas that have a shortage of land. The combustion process is operable in any weather condition, and the energy produced in the process can be used for other purposes.
Today there are modern incinerators that have a computerised monitoring system to troubleshoot most of the problems instantly.
Recovery refers to any operation in which waste would have been used to execute a particular function in the plant or the broader economy.
Recycling is the recovery and reuse of waste materials reprocessed into other products and materials for different purposes. It offers a considerable benefit to the environment, the country's economy, and its residents as a whole.
Recycling and recovery are an integrated approach to solid waste management and require noteworthy attempts from all parties, including YOU!
Municipalities in Hong Kong are all trying to keep up with the increasing litter and trash but are having a hard time amidst Covid-19. According to the Hong Kong Free Press, there has been a decrease in recycling supplies during a pandemic for a few independent recycling facilities. Although some larger recycling facilities, such as Hong Kong's electronic waste recycling facility, WEEE-Park, and OPARK, have remained open, smaller recycling groups are struggling to maintain their output levels.
Overall waste trends since Covid-19. Photo: Sustainable Asia.
Image Source: Hong Kong Free Press
Plasma gasification uses plasma gases ( highly ionised or electrically charged gases) within a vessel to change carbon-based materials into fuel. Plasma gasification is an emerging technology that treats dangerous waste into non-hazardous slag. The entire process of waste management is sustainable for the environment.
Composting is the process that breaks down organic waste into rich humus for your garden. It's a cheap, easy, and risk-free natural process that produces rich manure to improve the quality of the soil in your lawn and garden. Rather than discarding organic waste, put it aside and mix it all over time.
Hong Kong is utilising smart waste management practices that involve information and communication technology (ICT) to make strategic decisions regarding waste generation, collection, transportation, and disposal processes. The decision-makers in public waste management are implementing a smart waste bin based on an IoT approach to provide an efficient and real-time waste management system to deal with the millions of tonnes of daily municipal waste and improve operational efficiency.
A smart waste bin is an intelligent waste management system that uses wireless ultrasonic fill-level sensors embedded inside to deliver real-time information regarding the filling level of each compartment through the IoT. The data is then sent to a cloud-based monitoring and analytics platform to optimize the routes of the smart bins to improve operational efficiency and cut costs greatly.
Using IoT platforms and sensors used in smart bins, municipalities and waste management companies can witness several advantages, including:
Automating the processes of garbage sorting and disposal via smart waste bins can help inefficient waste management and smart recycling. It will bring a significant decrease in waste generation. This smart waste management effort will go a long way in maintaining environmental sustainability for a better future in Hong Kong.