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Green is Gold

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Sewage disposal plant (Photo: Xinhua News Agency)  
Environmental protection is now far more than an issue for sustainability zealots. With many industries hit hard by the global financial crisis, world leaders are looking to the environmental protection sector as a genuine way to stimulate their economy.

In a major policy shift, the United States government plans to invest US$100 billion in environmental protection over the next two years; Japan aims to develop a green market and provide interest-free loans to environment-friendly enterprises, while encouraging consumers to purchase green goods; and South Korea will invest US$38 billion in the coming four years to promote a series of eco-friendly projects.

As for the Chinese mainland, the State Council announced last November a package aimed at stimulating domestic demand and boosting economic growth. The country is to invest up to Rmb4 trillion in programmes in 10 major areas by the end of 2010.

The fifth of 10 programmes sets the focus on ecological regeneration. Emphasis will be put on projects that support energy conservation and emission reductions, including those that expedite the construction of sewage and garbage treatment facilities in urban areas and water pollution prevention in key river basins.

Of the Rmb100 billion additional investment endorsed by the state for 2008, Rmb8.5 billion has been allocated for environmental protection. This includes Rmb5 billion for urban sewage works and garbage treatment, Rmb1 billion for sewage treatment, waste-water reuse and piping networks in key river basins and Rmb2.5 billion for 10 major energy conservation projects and the development of a recycling economy.

Motivated by the government's Rmb4 trillion stimulus plan, the Capital Group of Beijing last November confirmed seven orders to construct sewage treatment plants.

The Rmb1 Trillion Plan

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Solar collectors on display in Beijing (Photo: Xinhua News Agency)  
 



Tackling Engine Pollution

 
 

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Dunwell Enviro-Tech Managing Director Daniel Cheng came up with the VMAT techology

 
 

A vast amount of gasoline pollution is belched out every year from the rapidly growing number of vehicles on the mainland. For instance, the volume of waste oil emitted in Beijing alone approaches 100,000 tonnes per year.

In the past, this waste oil was mixed with diesel to be reused as fuel for factory boilers. The burning temperature of these factory boilers, however, was not high enough to decompose organic waste materials. Also, poisonous gases such as sulphur dioxide and heavy metals would be released during the burning process, leading to serious air pollution.

VMAT (Vibrating Membrane Advanced Treatment), developed by Hong Kong's Dunwell Enviro-Tech (Holdings) Ltd, uses a low temperature (80°C to 90°C) technique to separate the additives in the waste oil. After separation, the old additives are treated in high temperature incinerators, while new additives are added to the treated oil to be used as lubricant.

The treatment is low-cost, involves no decomposition and doesn't produce any
obnoxious smells. The regeneration process won't create secondary pollution and is more eco-friendly.

The VMAT system is highly automated, with each set of equipment and production line capable of treating eight tonnes of waste oil a day. The equipment is small and occupies a space of just 100 square metres.

Waste-oil VMAT treatment centres can be located in different districts of a city, reducing transport costs. Given its advantage, VMAT was commissioned by the Beijing municipal government to deal with the waste oil – emitted by city vehicles – at the Beijing Dangerous Wastes Treatment Center. The centre was specially built for the 2008 Olympics.

Dunwell has also been developing waste-Oil-recycling-and-reuse technology to provide oil products to government departments, construction companies and manufacturing enterprises in Hong Kong and Guangdong. The company, which was awarded a silver prize in the China Environmental Science and Technology Awards 2008, has tailored solutions for its clients in the PRD, providing oil for plastic moulding machines used in the toy and plastics industries and providing engine oil for power generators.

With its breakthrough product, the company doesn't believe the credit crunch will have much effect on operations. In fact, given China's thrust towards a recycling economy, green manufacturing and environmental protection, the prospects are distinctly bright.

 
At the annual meeting of the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development (CCICED) held last year, the Minister of Environmental Protection announced that the mainland would raise Rmb1 trillion in the next three years to invest in environmental protection projects.

The 11th Five-Year Programme stipulates that, by 2010, China will reduce the total emission volume of major pollutants by 10 per cent, achieve a sewage treatment rate of no less than 70 per cent in urban areas and maintain the comprehensive utilisation rate of industrial solid waste at 60 per cent.

The programme also sets out plans to improve energy conservation and use, while gradually developing a recycling economy in the areas of resource exploitation, consumption on production and waste generation and encouraging so-called "smart consumption".

Apart from cleaning the atmosphere, the water and solid waste, the mainland's environmental protection industries will have their work cut out on crucial projects that target energy conservation, water conservation, recycling and reuse.

To encourage enterprises to conserve energy, reduce emissions and promote technological innovation, the Enterprise Income Tax Law (implemented last year) provides tax reduction or tax exemption for products that promote energy and water conservation, and for equipment that protects the environment.

A catalogue of such products and equipment has been promulgated jointly by the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration of Taxation and the National Development and Reform Commission.

A Recycling Economy

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Energy-saving bulbs are encouraged (Photo: Xinhua
News Agency)
 
According to the recently unveiled Outline of Reform and Development Programme for the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region (2008-2020), the region is pushing to develop a "recycling economy," with energy conservation projects having top priority.

Guided by principles of controlled energy consumption and reuse, these projects are expected to promote a comprehensive approach, using resources through conservation and encouraging overall clean production.

Authorities will tighten their grip on major energy-hungry bodies and push for technological innovation both in conservation and efficiency.

The intent is to build a highly efficient system for economic development, one in which investment, consumption and emissions are kept low. It's particularly focused on the manufacturing, construction and transportation sectors. By 2020, gross domestic energy consumption is expected to reach 0.57 tonnes of standard coal per unit.

Plans to develop a comprehensive utilisation of resources, such as power generation by garbage incineration and residual heat use, are also being actively encouraged.

Demand-side management of energy conservation is another priority. The total volume of water use will be closely monitored, with quota management brought into play. By 2020, the industrial water reuse rate is set to be 80 per cent. Systems for water recycling in the cities will also be built.

A plan for guiding, monitoring and promoting clean production is due to be formulated. Authorities will set local pricing and fiscal policies that are favourable to the development of a recycling economy.

Industry chains, where concepts of efficient resource use and energy recovery are put into practice, are expected to be formed in industrial parks built according to the plan's acceptable green standards.

There will be a great deal of encouragement to produce and retain efficiencies, whether for energy, water or goods. That will extend to recycling products and manufacturing environmentally friendly vehicles.

Targetting the PRD

Particular attention will be placed on the PRD, where strict measures will be implemented to target pollutant emissions. Authorities will press enterprises into industrial parks with centralised waste-water management to minimise pollution.

The PRD will develop stricter local environmental standards, with greater coordination of environmental protection facilities. Support will be given to innovators capable of developing environmental management.

Pricing, fiscal and financial support will be offered to develop a truly effective environmental protection system, with responsibilities identified for the government, the enterprises and the people of the PRD.

These measures are aimed at supporting broader targets. By 2012, the sewage treatment rate in urban areas is expected to be about 80 per cent; the rate of domestic garbage neutralisation in urban areas should be at about 85 per cent, and the industrial waste-water discharge compliance rate at about 90 per cent.

By 2020, the sewage treatment rate in urban areas is expected to exceed 90 per cent and the rate of neutralising domestic garbage at 100 per cent. The industrial waste-water discharge compliance rate should be totally at par.

For more on market opportunities, please see the March issue of the HKTDC Trade Quarterly, which can be ordered at www.hktdc.com/bookshop.

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