Eco-friendly businesses win recognition

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am

Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important throughout the business community.

As a result, the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence (HKAEE) honours businesses and organisations that strive to protect the environment.

In line with the government's policy of raising environmental awareness, the HKAEE encourages companies and organisations to adopt green management practices and presents them with an opportunity to benchmark their commitment towards environmental excellence.

The awards are now in their third year and are recognised as one of the city's most prestigious.

The HKAEE is a merger and an extension of three former government-initiated schemes: the Hong Kong Eco-Business Awards, Wastewi$e and the Hong Kong Energy Efficiency Awards.

The HKAEE programme incorporates three important areas of environmental management strategies: Environmental Labels, Sectoral and Carbon 'Less' initiatives.

Over the past three years, the HKAEE's organising committee says it has noticed an encouraging growth in the number of entries. There has also been growth in the quality of environmental initiatives implemented by participants.

An HKAEE organising committee spokesman says that by 'adopting good environmental practices' businesses can make 'efficient use of resources and materials, thereby achieving savings on purchasing materials and resources. It can also help to streamline business operations and thereby increase business competitiveness'. The spokesman adds that there has been 'a healthy movement within the business community to address environmental issues. Many have done an admirable job in' implementing eco-friendly measures.

About 800 companies entered the Environmental Labels category, with 400 more companies joining the Sectoral awards and more than 60 companies entering the Carbon 'Less' Certificates awards category. All businesses, organisations and their functional units operating primarily in Hong Kong are eligible to participate in the awards.

The Environmental Labels award offers recognition to enterprises that have achieved goals in waste reduction, energy conservation, improving indoor air quality and improving the environmental attributes of their products. Introduced to the awards programme last year, the Carbon 'Less' Certificates category recognises organisations with successful carbon reduction achievements.

Covering nine categories, the Sectoral awards include the construction industry, financial, insurance and accounting sectors, hotels and restaurants, manufacturing, property management, public organisations and utilities, retailers, schools (primary and secondary), and transport and logistics.

Assessment criteria for the Sectoral awards are based on an 'Eco-Business Model' designed to exemplify the strong relationship between the internal workings of a business and its surrounding environment.

Key factors include green leadership, programmes and performance, and partner synergy, which is considered vital in the overall integration of environmental measures within an organisation.

'The HKAEE aims to provide an opportunity for any business to demonstrate that environmental responsibility is an integral part of their organisation,' says the awards committee spokesman. 'Participating in such a demanding awards programme can provide a positive boost to an organisation, both internally, for the staff, and externally, for customers and the community.'

Assessors look for businesses that have made the environment part of their operations.

They were also looking for tangible results and evidence that the approach taken has delivered positive benefits for the company and wider community.

For example, a construction company, which took part in the awards, set up large light-emitting diode displays at the boundary of a construction site to demonstrate its environmental ideas.

They also regularly arranged induction programmes for nearby schools and residents to deliver messages on environmental awareness. A retail group demonstrated its success in saving on material consumption by reducing its water consumption by 2 per cent during a 12-month period. At the same time a hotel chain, which introduced a food waste-recycling programme, was able to substantially reduce food waste and, at the same time, produce compost which can be used as fertiliser.

Another example is a property management company which set up an umbrella drying machine and air purifier to improve its daily operations.

Other companies have chosen to publish environmental or sustainability reports to communicate their achievements. For instance, an airline company published a corporate report demonstrating its commitment to climate change.

In the report, it also announced goals on reducing aviation emissions. The airline also established a programme which allows passengers to join a carbon-offset scheme.

The assessors and organising committee were also impressed by entries in the schools section. They discovered that not only students, but also their family members, were heavily involved in environmental initiatives embedded in the school curriculum. In addition to receiving positive media coverage, each applicant successfully entering the second stage of the Sectoral awards also receives a complimentary report prepared by the assessors, highlighting its strengths and areas where improvement in environmental management could be made.

The awards ceremony was held yesterday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and was attended by about 100 winners.

The awards are sponsored by the Environment and Conservation Fund.

There has been a healthy movement within the business community to address environmental issues. Many have done an admirable job in implementing eco-friendly measures