24 January 2019
The congealed palm oil collected in plastic bags is starting to melt and stink amid the hot weather. Photo: HKEJ
The congealed palm oil collected in plastic bags is starting to melt and stink amid the hot weather. Photo: HKEJ

Govt plans to turn spilled palm oil into biodiesel

Recognizing an economic opportunity from an environmental mishap, the government plans to have the palm oil collected from Hong Kong waters and beaches turned into car fuel, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The oil spill resulting from a vessel collision near the Pearl River estuary on Aug. 3 has contaminated about a dozen popular local beaches, which were forced to close for several days and even weeks.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Marine Department, the Environmental Protection Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department have jointly collected more than 200 metric tons of the congealed oil and most of the affected beaches have reopened.

Now the government, faced with the challenge of how to dispose of the oil waste, has asked two biodiesel makers, ASB Biodiesel (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Champway Technology Limited, for help.

As much as 100 tons, or half of the collected lumps of oil, will be transported to ASB Biodiesel’s plant at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

The company’s chief executive, Cheung Siu-ming, told media on Thursday that the palm oil will be purified before they it can be turned into biodiesel since it has been seriously contaminated with sand and other foreign particles.

Cheung said the collected lumps of oil could produce 50 to 60 tons of biodiesel, which can be turned into crude gasoline, plus seven to eight tons of glycerin and 10 tons of bio-heating oil.

The biodiesel and glycerin will then be sold to oil resellers by tender with the income minus the cost donated to environmental groups, he said.

The purification process will not be completed until the end of next week.

Cheung said the EPD and the two companies that own the ships that collided will take care of the legal issues regarding ownership of the oil.

Meanwhile, Kenji Wong Yiu-kwong, operation director of Champway Technology, which is located at the EcoPark in Tuen Mun, called on the government to provide more support for local biodiesel makers as they have suffered from the fuel price slump in recent years.

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