Blueprint for a greener HK

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 September, 1996, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Productivity Council is arranging a briefing for Hong Kong businesses on developments in the ISO 14000 environmental management standards, expected to be officially published this month.

It is scheduled for 5 pm on Thursday at the Island Shangri-La Hotel.

Leading the briefing will be S K Chan, executive director of the HKPC, Rob Law, director of the Environmental Protection Department, Tom Chapman, the HKPC Environmental Management Division's business development manager, and Howie Ng Ha-wai, chief executive of the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency.

ISO 14000 encompasses diverse aspects including environmental management systems (EMS), auditing, labelling, evaluation of product life cycles and product standards.

Mr Chapman said the series included a standard that outlined specifications and one that provided guidance for organisations planning to set up environmental management systems.

ISO 14001, considered the most important standard in the series, is the environmental equivalent of ISO 9000 quality management system certification standard.

'This standard is aimed at helping an organisation to establish an environmental management system and also providing the basis for certification,' Mr Chapman said.

The HKPC had found increasing interest in ISO 14001, with several private and public sector organisations taking part in a pilot programme launched by the council last November. Shell companies in greater China, Mobil Oil, Green Valley Landfill, the Island Shangri-La, Elec and Eltek, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, China Light and Power, Shui Wing Steel, Sylva Industries, Philips and Yau Lee Construction were all participating in the pilot project.

'The programme is being held in association with the Canadian Standards Association. It acts as the secretariat of ISO Technical Committee 207, which developed the ISO 14000 standards,' Mr Chapman said.

A second pilot project was launched to cater for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It was aimed at businesses outside the manufacturing sector, effectively leaving the door open for Hong Kong's service companies.

Mr Chapman said companies would come under increasing pressure from the Government and from the public and business partners to maintain high environmental standards.

'Some large organisations in Hong Kong have already started to develop an environmental management system based on the draft standards.

'Adopting an environmental management system will become the norm, rather than the exception,' Mr Chapman said. The HKPC Environmental Management Division's senior consultant, Sophie le Clue, predicted that the ISO 14000 standards would be widely accepted and adopted by organisations in all sectors in Hong Kong.

'Over the past 12 to 18 months, at least 100 companies worldwide have been developing an environmental management system (EMS) based on the draft ISO 14001 standard. This is also true in Hong Kong, where there are about 20 companies that are currently developing an environmental management system,' Ms le Clue said.

The global standards will be especially important to Hong Kong's exporters.

Publication of the standards would increase the awareness of businesses about the importance of following environmentally friendly practices, Ms le Clue said.

'The imminent certification of several companies will draw attention to the benefits and implications of environmental management systems and the potential consequences for organisations that do not take any action to set up an environmental management system,' she said.