Brand-name shops accused of light pollution

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 October, 2008, 12:00am

A green group has accused five brand-name shops of excessive use of lighting on their outlets' exterior walls and in advertising that has caused electric-light pollution in Central.

The five shops are Louis Vuitton in The Landmark, H&M in Queen's Road Central, the flagship shop of Coach in Central, Miu Miu in The Landmark and Dunhill in the Prince's Building.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth patrolled Central at midnight on Wednesday and found the five outlets all 'glowing', the group's environmental affairs manager Hahn Chu Hon-keung said.

'We do not object to reasonable commercial lighting but we are against wasteful lighting and light nuisances,' he said.

'We oppose the shops' overemphasis on profit-making at the expense of the environment by emitting greenhouse gases and air pollutants, and creating light pollution.'

About 50 complaints about light nuisance had been received by the end of September, compared with 40 for the whole of last year, figures from the Environmental Protection Department show.

Mr Chu said: 'Louis Vuitton acted against its pledge in support of the Climate Project, which was recently advertised ... in newspapers. Yet, their Central outlet's exterior lights were well lit when there was no one walking around there after midnight.

'If a shop really wants to be green, then it should just turn off all the lights instead of spending so much on lighting and advertising.'

The group urged the government to introduce regulations to tighten controls over use of lighting for exterior walls of shops, and for advertisements.

Louis Vuitton said it had always been committed to protecting the environment and added that the chairman and chief executive of the Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton Group, Bernard Arnault, created a Directory Board for the Environment in 1992. Mr Arnault also signed an environmental charter in 2001 requiring every company in the group to set up a management system dedicated to the environment.

H&M said lighting at its store was controlled by a timer, and the lights were automatically switched off two hours after the store closed.

'So, most lights are off by midnight. When our staff begin work in the morning, only one third of the lights will be switched on so that they can navigate around the store to work. We will only switch on all our lights when the store is about to open,' a spokeswoman said.

Miu Miu said its manager was not in the store and could not comment. Coach and Dunhill did not reply to inquiries from the South China Morning Post.