AS HONG KONG'S only aviation service company, maintaining and keeping many of the worlds most sophisticated aircraft flying efficiently and safely provides the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (Haeco) with plenty of exciting challenges, including overcoming potentially environmentally damaging processes. Haeco environmental protection and industrial safety manager Matthew Tang said that as part of the Swire Group, Haeco took its environmental responsibilities seriously. 'We recognise we have a duty to our customers, our staff and shareholders, and to the community in which we do business, to continually strive to improve our performance. However, we recognise that simply measuring our performance against legislation is not enough and finding new ways to do better has become a priority for Haeco.' Winning an Environmental Performance Certificate of Merit is the most recent endorsement of the company's efforts to outperform statutory environmental regulations. The company recently received an award for its environmental performance from watchdogs within the aviation industry. 'Winning awards is a huge motivation boost but more importantly it is recognition of all Haeco employees for their efforts to make a valuable difference,' Mr Tang said. Away from the workplace, he hoped the firm's 3,500 employees were ambassadors for protecting the environment. Haeco provides a unique menu of aviation services in Hong Kong. Operating since 1998 under a 20-year franchise agreement, Haeco is the only aircraft maintenance provider to Hong Kong-based and overseas aircraft at Hong Kong International Airport. Haeco is also Asia's largest aeronautical engineering company in capability. Its maintenance activities range from aircraft cleaning to full technical log certification. Mr Tang said the company had developed its own environmental policies to accurately reflect its operations. These included the principles of reduce, re-use, recycle and recover in its approach to using materials. Haeco uses phenol-free detergents to wash aircraft and constructed its own wastewater treatment plant to eliminate contaminants before discharging water into the sewerage system. Mr Tang said good environmental practices did not necessarily cost millions of dollars. 'From recycling aluminium cans and PET bottles, to recycling paper in our offices, small low-cost initiatives make a difference,' he said. 'Our message is that small-scale efforts are just as important as the high-profile ones and doing the right thing by our environment need not depend on costly investment in new technology.' Environmental protection officer Kenneth Cheung said the challenge was how to change the way society produced and consumed resources to reduce the impact and maintain consumption at a sustainable level. The firm encourages employees to turn off lights during meal breaks and adopt the company-led philosophy of following the highest standards of energy conservation, including reducing air and water pollution and solid waste disposal. Mr Cheung said the company had implemented a wide range of key environmental, health and safety performance measures across its major business units with the aim of establishing baseline performance measures and setting goals for continuous improvement. As a responsible corporate player, Haeco shares its environmental initiatives with other companies and provides opportunities for site visits. Students from the Vocational Training Institute and other interested parties researching good environmental practices are invited to include the company in their case studies. 'Taking a responsible and proactive stance on environmental issues is not just a luxury only large corporations can afford, it is a sound investment in the sustainable future of any business,' Mr Cheung said.