Bulky trash becomes usable plastic
A Hong Kong firm has developed an innovative technology to efficiently treat expanded polystyrene foam waste, helping the recycling industry upgrade and transform.
24 February 2022
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, commonly known as “styrofoam” and widely used in packaging and disposable containers for food and drinks, can take hundreds of years to decompose in the natural environment, causing long-term pollution.
There are many EPS recycling technologies in the market but recyclers are often deterred by the high cost of transporting the bulky waste to treatment facilities and the cost of cleaning the porous material before treatment. A Hong Kong company is offering a solution to these headaches.
Recycling service provider WIT Holdings developed the Ultimo Technology recycling vehicle that collects and rapidly degrades EPS waste at or near its source before transporting the processed waste to a facility for filtering out any contaminants and converting it into useful polystyrene (PS) raw material.
By degrading and cutting the volume of waste near its source, the patented technology greatly reduces recyclers’ transport costs. The system saves clients’ human and financial resources by removing contaminants from the material, eliminating pre-treatment cleaning.
The unit, believed to be the first EPS recycling treatment vehicle in the city, serves as an efficient mobile recycling facility. It can collect up to half a tonne of EPS waste at one go and degrade more than 50 kilograms of the material per hour, equivalent to about 200 of the 19 x 14 x 15 inch (48 x 36 x 38cm) containers often used in wet markets.
Ultimo Technology makes EPS recycling more cost-effective and commercially viable, helping to upgrade and transform Hong Kong’s recycling industry.
The solution offers substantial commercial value and supports the government’s initiative to promote recycling and a circular economy.
The technology attracted considerable interest at Eco Expo Asia in October 2021, when WIT debuted at the fair to promote its services and connect with potential business partners.
WIT Chairman Lo Kou-hong believes the recycling industry has considerable development potential in Hong Kong for various reasons. These include the Basel Convention amendments, in effect since 1 January 2021, under which any person who intends to move waste plastics, except for certain single-type and uncontaminated waste plastics, across a boundary must obtain a permit or prior written consent from the states of export, import and transit concerned.
Mr Lo said the update effectively bans companies in Hong Kong, a party to the convention, to export contaminated or unrecycled waste plastics. This will boost EPS recycling in the city and bring WIT opportunities.
The chairman said his firm had been promoting itself online since 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented face-to-face marketing.
"Promotion on streaming and online platforms has been more effective than expected, attracting many citizens, enterprises and government departments seeking to understand our technology and services. It has also helped us reach out to overseas customers," said Mr Lo.
Industry upgrading and transformation
The recycling treatment vehicle collects EPS waste at different locations in Hong Kong, including shopping malls and housing estates.
The company hopes to expand its vehicle fleet and secure a cooperation agreement with relevant government departments to systematically recycle EPS waste in all 18 districts in Hong Kong. Mr Lo said this would help cut the 90 tonnes of EPS waste sent to landfills every day.
"Many people think recycling is a sunset industry, but we see it as a sunrise industry,” Mr Lo said. “With innovative technology and equipment, we can help the industry upgrade and transform. This will not only create enormous business opportunities for the industry, but also promote environmental protection in Hong Kong,”
Eco Expo Asia
WIT participated in Eco Expo Asia in October last year, seeking to use the platform to promote the Ultimo Technology by connecting and discussing potential cooperation with relevant enterprises and government departments.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd, Eco Expo Asia 2021 showcased the latest green products, equipment and technologies. For the first time, the exhibition was held in a hybrid physical-online format. With both editions opening on 27 October 2021, the physical expo was held until 30 October at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and the online exhibition closed on 6 November.
- Environmental Protection
- Hong Kong
- Hong Kong