Laundry poser 'ironed out'

THINGS are getting greener at the Hotel Nikko due to an environmentally-friendly general manager.

The hotel's latest initiative is to stop wasting energy, water and laundry detergent on towels which are not dirty - or can be reused.

Small cards deposited in each of the hotel's 442 rooms and 19 suites tell guests to put towels in need of cleaning into a basket and leave clean towels on a rail in the bathroom.

The hotel's previous policy was to clean everything - including 10 towels, two bath mats and two bathrobes a room - on a daily basis whether they appeared dirty or not.

'We have not set a target but we are hoping guests can be conscientious and use fewer towels,' said Christine Yue, the public relations manager.

Hotel Nikko has other 'green' projects planned, including one to reduce the use of energy and water.

The Department of Building Services at Hong Kong Polytechnic University is drafting a report on the hotel's consumption of these areas.

In January, Hotel Nikko received a $50,000 grant from the Shell Better Environment Awards Scheme.

It plans to use the cash to publish a good environmental practice guide, which includes data and results from the university study.

Hotel Nikko's environmental protection efforts led to a $500,000 project to install a water and energy-saving device.

The Platypus System involves a small brass valve which is inserted into the hydraulic system to control water consumption.

'This minimises the water flow but you do not really notice a difference,' Ms Yue said. It is expected water and fuel oil consumption will be reduced by between 20 and 30 per cent.

'Seventy-five per cent of our customers are Japanese,' Ms Yue said. 'It is their tradition to fill up a tub, dip in and have a hot bath.

'They want to have the water to the maximum level.' Ms Yue said the hotel, which had been in operating in Hong Kong since 1988, was the first in the territory to install the system.

She said Hotel Nikko became involved in green projects about three years ago with the arrival of the environmentally-minded general manager, Jean-Marie Leclercq.

The hotel is a sponsor of the fourth-annual Business and Industry Environment Conference.

'We think it matches our green policies,' Ms Yue said. 'We should do what we can to protect the environment and we think the conference is a good idea to give a push to people in Hong Kong and make them more aware.'