Three in One: Cool, Hot and Wasteful

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be listed as a ‘World Heritage site in danger’ unless high-risk coastal developments and new ports in Queensland were shelved. Shopping malls in Hong Kong should do more to encourage tenants to turn down the air conditioning, a green group says, as a survey shows stores are often far chillier than the public areas of malls. Cut food waste during packaging and preparation and redistribute spare food, say experts on the Singapore Government’s announcement of a new committee to look into food waste and security. Read More

By Kellee Nolan for AAP (7 August 2012):

AN oil spill on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef would cost billions of dollars, both to clean up the mess and to deal with an anti-shipping backlash, the federal government says.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the impact of an oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef would run to “billions and billions of dollars”.

“Because if it happens, it’s not just the direct clean-up costs. It’s the cost of the campaign that says ‘we don’t want ships going through the reef’,” Mr Albanese told the National Shipping Industry Conference in Melbourne.

“And that campaign, were there to be an incident, would be very, very real indeed, which is why we need to bear all of that in mind.”

A UNESCO report released in June was highly critical of Australia’s management of the Great Barrier Reef.

It said the reef could be listed as a ‘World Heritage site in danger’ unless high-risk coastal developments including new ports in Queensland were shelved.

The national shipping conference opened on Tuesday with projections of continued shipping export growth over coming years.

Dry bulk shipping exports had grown from more than 400 million tonnes in 2000 to almost 800 million tonnes and were expected to top one billion tonnes by 2015.

Mr Albanese said it was critical that shipping met the highest environmental standards, to protect the iconic regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait and the Coral Sea.

The government was improving Australia’s oil spill response capability, starting with a $13.5 million rollout of new equipment in Sydney, Melbourne, Devonport, Adelaide, Perth, Dampier, Darwin, Townsville and Brisbane ports over coming weeks.

Mr Albanese said this would improve Australia’s ability to clean up oil spills more effectively and in more difficult conditions.



More must be done to get tenants to turn down the air conditioning, says green group Friends of the Earth

By Amy Nip in South China Morning Post (6 August 2012):

Shopping malls in Hong Kong should do more to encourage tenants to turn down the air conditioning, a green group says, as a survey shows stores are often far chillier than the public areas of malls.

While bosses at 100 malls have pledged to stick to government recommendations and keep temperatures at between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius, tenancy rules under which stores can keep the air conditioning turned up without paying more mean shop owners have little incentive to help, Friends of the Earth says.

“Shop managers are required to pay an air-con fee to property managers, and the sum varies according to the shops’ size but not their energy usage. Once they have paid the fixed fee, the shops would use as much air-conditioning as they can,” the group’s environmental affairs officer, Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung, said.

Rules should be changed to help reduce carbon emissions, in line with the government’s energy-saving charter for malls, Chau said.

The charter, which took effect in June, encourages malls to keep a close eye on average indoor temperature. Managers of 100 malls signed up for the charter and a majority turned down their central air conditioning. But it did not cover individual shops. Clauses should be added to push estate managers to step up communication with tenants, Chau said. Her recommendations came as the group announced a survey on temperature levels. Conducted last month, it covered 74 malls, including 69 which have signed the government’s charter. Joint Publishing’s bookshop in Yuen Long Plaza was the chilliest place to shop, with temperatures of 19 degrees. The average temperature in the mall was 23.7 degrees.

The temperature for those in the queue for tickets at the UA cinema at Trend Plaza, Tuen Mun, was 20 degrees, while at the health products store GNC Live Well in Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza it was 20.5 degrees. In both cases, the public areas of malls were about two degrees warmer.

Some 78 per cent of all malls, and 80 per cent of the malls that signed the government pledge, managed to keep corridors and common areas within the recommended range. But some missed the target, including Mikiki in San Po Kong, Grand Waterfront Plaza in To Kwa Wan and Trend Plaza in Tuen Mun, which saw a temperature range of 22.3 to 22.5 degrees Celsius. Five of the eight malls run by Henderson Land Development (SEHK: 0012) that were included in the survey had temperatures below the suggested level.

But other malls improved. In a 2005 survey, the temperature in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City was 19.5 degrees. This summer it was 24.3.

IFC Mall in Central, APM in Kwun Tong, Times Square in Causeway Bay and Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing – malls which have been the subject of complaints about low temperatures over the past few years – all fulfilled the charter’s recommendation this year.

Joint Publishing could not be reached for comment. Sun Hung Kai Properties (SEHK: 0016), which runs Mikiki mall, did not reply to such a request.



By Grace Chua in The Straits Times (21 July 2012):

Cut food waste during packaging and preparation and redistribute spare food, say experts who have weighed in on the Government’s announcement of a new committee that will look into food waste and security.

Food is often wasted during packaging because customers want unblemished produce, said sustainability researcher Kua Harn-Wei.

To solve this, he pointed to initiatives like Britain’s Waste Resources and Action Programme, a non-government scheme that works with supermarkets to educate consumers and develop packaging to lengthen the shelf life of fresh vegetables. It also gets food and beverage outlets to offer smaller portion sizes.

The inter-ministry committee was announced last week by Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan, who said that with Singapore’s reliance on food imports, the Republic needs to look at how to secure its food supply.

He did not have more details.

There could be better food redistribution and recycling, Dr Kua said, such as through food banks and other community efforts.

Technology, too, could help nudge people into throwing away less: Last year, a South Korean pilot programme used radio-frequency identification chips to weigh bags of food waste and charge customers by how much they threw away. It cut food waste by 25 per cent.

Singapore generated 675,500 tons of food waste, or 10 per cent of its overall waste by weight, last year. The bulk of that was incinerated rather than recycled for biogas or fertiliser. Contamination is one reason. Nanyang Technological University’s business school associate professor Josephine Lang, who has written on food waste management here, pointed out that in food courts, there is a need to separate food waste from other materials such as styrofoam plates and plastic utensils before it can be recycled.

In 2010, the National Environment Agency studied the costs and benefits of food waste recycling, and found that waste collection and processing at a centralised food-waste facility were not cost-effective.

But, a spokesman said: ‘These costs could decrease with economies of scale, better technologies, more efficient operation and improved waste segregation.’ On-site food-waste composting machines are one way to get around high collection and processing costs, and are used at some premises like hotels.

While cutting food waste is one means of improving food security, another means is diversifying food sources. Agricultural research is one route Singapore is taking. Last year, the National Research Foundation said it would invest up to $10 million over five years into disease-resistant rice, while the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s Food Fund gives projects up to $2 million apiece over three years.

Another way is to preserve the traditional low-meat, high-vegetable diet of Asia, suggested Mr Zhang Hongzhou, a senior analyst at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in a paper earlier this year. Meat production is grain-intensive – a kilo of beef takes 7kg of grain to produce, while 1kg of pork requires 4kg of grain.


One Response to “Three in One: Cool, Hot and Wasteful”

  1. I read about “AN oil spill on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef”. This is truly too awful to think about. Do please keep up this good work to raise awareness.


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