Staff get behind recycling scheme

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2011, 12:00am


It's no small feat convincing an individual to change daily habits, let alone introducing behavioural changes across an organisation. With commitment and good communication, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been able to embed sustainability in its processes and promote a green culture among employees.

'Even small changes in the staff's routines are sometimes as important as the introduction of environmental facilities,' says Mimi Cunningham, director of human resources and sustainability at the Jockey Club, a gold-award recipient in the large-corporations category of the Green Management Award and Green Purchaswi$e Award at the Hong Kong Green Awards 2011.

Take the club's 'Rubbish Bin Free' trial as an example. 'Rubbish bins are no longer available in some of the workstations ... staff are encouraged to sort and dispose of their rubbish into recycling boxes located on each floor,' she says. Employees are urged to use both sides of paper, in a bid to cut 30 per cent of paper usage for internal operations. Lights in the headquarters are switched off at lunchtime, during which staff are also required to turn off their computers and printers.

'They did not take to the change at first,' Cunningham says. 'But the results became noticeable - people were consuming less paper by thinking twice before opening new packs, or simply by reusing old sheets.'

In the past, the thermal coating on betting tickets made them difficult to recycle, Cunningham says.

'With new betting terminals, 100 per cent recyclable paper can be used. The touch-screen betting terminals have also helped reduce ticket usage by 20 per cent,' she says.

Heeding the advice of green group WWF, the club has removed shark's fin dishes from ?la carte menus and is promoting sustainable seafood menus. It is also assessing a food processor that breaks down food waste to a harmless residue. Meanwhile, waste cooking oil is sent to a biodiesel plant for conversion into biofuel, and many plastic food containers have been replaced with biodegradable products.

Cutting down on carbon emissions is high on the agenda. To reduce vehicular energy consumption, all diesel vehicles are Euro IV-certified, while last year the club took delivery of an electric car - the first to be certified for use on Hong Kong roads - saving 2,500 litres of petrol and reducing carbon footprint by 6.7 tonnes.

Efforts to lower electricity consumption - mainly by switching to water-cooled air conditioning systems - have also resulted in a 3,666-tonne drop in carbon emissions.

For two consecutive years, the club has organised a 'Green Action' campaign to mobilise staff support for its environmental initiatives, while encouraging them to adopt green practices at home. This year's events included the collection of items for recycling, eye-opening eco-tours, and fun-filled competitions.

'We have a clear vision on what the club wants to achieve, a strong teamwork ethic, a focus on embedding green into the corporate culture, and, last but not least, an excellent governance with regard to green issues,' Cunningham says.

Chung Tai Printing (China), another large-corporations, gold-award recipient of the Green Management Award, has brought about green management through a host of initiatives.

These include using specially designed equipment to reduce electricity consumption and water usage, meeting overseas customers' environmental requirements through the Enterprise Resource Planning system and inviting consultants to advise on ways to improve its green practices.

The company, which stresses the importance of 'strategies, policies, leadership and innovation' in its green efforts, has in the past few years devoted an unaudited amount of about HK$5 million to the cause.

Company president Angela Ng Wai-yung says the challenge of going green lies not only in investing in the necessary equipment, material or resources. 'Staff education and training are crucial if we are to convince all levels of employees to get involved in the company's environmental protection programme,' she says.

Chung Tai spells out clearly to its staff that environmental protection is an integral part of its long-term business development and strategy.

Its vision is 'to be the most valued and innovative leader in the selected fields we serve', and its mission is 'to be a green corporate citizen'.

Ng says the management is a role model in putting the theory of environmental protection into practice. On the 18th day of each month, management wear a green T-shirt and encourage employees to do so. It is hoped that through participation staff become more aware of green issues.

The company regularly hosts seminars, workshops and drawing competitions on issues pertinent to the environment, bringing management, employees and their families together. 'Green calendars' are also printed to share green tips on everyday life with employees.

Ng says an unwavering dedication to its corporate social responsibility has enabled the company to overcome the challenges of implementing green initiatives. 'The 'win-win synergy' has enabled us to be profitable while achieving the goal of environmental protection, which is at the core of our long-term sustainable development,' she says.