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PolyU Launches New Research Centre for Carbon Neutrality Tech

Image Credits: PolyU, Press Release

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has established a new institution for cutting-edge technology and policy research in solid waste recycling issues, a critical area in achieving carbon neutrality to tackle climate change. The Research Centre for Resources Engineering towards Carbon Neutrality (RCRE) will focus its efforts on four research directions, including policy and society, environmental and economic impact, waste-to-resource technology, as well as recycling and sustainable construction.

In Hong Kong, waste is one of the top three sources of carbon emissions. The HKSAR Government aims to reduce carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Meanwhile, China has also pledged to attain national carbon neutrality by 2060.

RCRE pools top researchers from various disciplines, covering most of the solid waste spectrum, including construction waste, waste asphalt, tyres, glasses, incineration residuals, food waste, textiles, waste management policy, and life cycle environmental cost analysis. They will combine their efforts to support the Government’s carbon neutrality strategy, including minimising the waste required to be disposed of at landfills.

RCRE’s recent research includes using sea-sand and seawater eco-engineered panels to enhance marine biodiversity along Lantau’s coastline, developing biochar-enhanced construction materials, and upcycling waste plastics into sustainable asphalt pavements, to name but a few.

The Centre will also leverage the University’s advanced research platforms in water and waste, transport and highway engineering, road, concrete materials, and bioenergy, as well as PolyU’s joint laboratory on solid waste science with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics.

At the online inauguration ceremony of the new centre, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment noted that technological development plays a pivotal role in achieving carbon neutrality. He noted that the Government supports local universities and private enterprises to develop low-carbon and green technologies. A $200 million Green Tech Fund was set up to provide better and more focused funding support for R&D projects which can help Hong Kong decarbonise and enhance environmental protection, as Hong Kong strives to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050.

At the same time, according to the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035 with the vision of waste reduction, resources circulation and zero-landfill, the Government will also continue to step up promotion of innovation and technology development, promote the R&D and trial of decarbonisation technologies, and consolidate and strengthen downstream recovery, recycling and waste-to-resource capabilities.

The President of PolyU stated that as a university with a strong emphasis on societal impact, PolyU started researching solid waste management in the early 1990s. PolyU now has the largest research team and facilities among all the universities in Hong Kong focusing on resources engineering towards carbon neutrality and has established a strong track record and recognised reputation in the waste management research community.

RCRE, which is part of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research, will fulfil the University’s motto of ‘To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind, he added.

The Director of RCRE, Chair Professor of Sustainable Construction Materials and Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering noted that waste reduction and resources circulation are key to driving carbon reduction, and often require complementary policies to facilitate the wide and efficient application of these cutting-edge decarbonisation technologies. RCRE aspires to become a leading global research centre in solid waste recycling issues, promoting Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area as models of resources engineering towards a circular economy.

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