IT IS COMMON knowledge that most of Hong Kong's manufacturing industries, including the recycling and environmental business, have moved to China. But this does not mean the end of manufacturing here as a small 2 per cent of the recycling and environment operations are viable and continue to thrive in the city. In fact, recycling operations are expected to create more jobs to cope with expansion. Leading tyre recycling company Jets Technics International Holdings recently hired nearly 30 people to work in its Tai Po Industrial Estate plant. The new recruits - former workers from recycler South China Paper - were employed to work in product design, sales and marketing, research and development as well as manufacturing and supervisory work. Jets director So Tat-wing said people were hired for their relevant experience so as to minimise the amount of training required. 'It is not easy to find the right people to join our industry,' he said. 'It was a good opportunity for us to be able to hire so many people who have worked together and established a good working relationship and communication network among themselves.' Their workforce now exceeds 200 with a turnover rate of about 20 per cent. Mr So believes there are misconceptions about the industry having poor working conditions and the work being repetitive. 'With technologically advanced machinery to process the recycling and government regulations in place to protect workers, such concerns are unsubstantiated,' he said. 'Another misunderstanding is that people think there are no prospects working in the industry as most operations have moved to China. But this is not the case for Jets. We are surviving and developing well.' Listed in Singapore, the group uses advanced technology to recycle scrap tyres, waste wood, and discarded plastic bags and bottles into recreational products and building materials. Jets is one of the major suppliers of cushioned surfaces for many stadiums in China, including those of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It also enjoys a leading role in the Hong Kong market as about 60 to 70 per cent of local stadiums use its products. The group provides playground cushioning and equipment for new housing estates and hotels such as Hong Kong Disneyland. It is expanding its overseas markets in Asia and Europe. To retain its best staff, the company offers in-house training and also encourages employees to take part-time courses to enhance their professional knowledge. Once employees have successfully completed their studies, the company reimburses 100 per cent of their tuition fees, provided that graduates commit to working for the group for an agreed period. The most sought-after employees are university graduates in mechanical and electronic engineering. Fresh graduates are offered a starting salary of no less than HK$13,000, with those receiving continuous training and promotions earning up to HK$400,000 a year. Mr So said that as time and resources were needed to train new recruits, further recruitment drives might take place every few months. Cedric Chan, general manager of Prominent International (Environmental), believes the only way for the Hong Kong environmental business to survive is to develop a value-added service. Prominent makes industrial-grade ozone machines used to disinfect drinking water and in food processing. The treatment also applies to municipal water and swimming pool water. A powerful disinfectant, ozone is a safe and natural alternative to chemical disinfectants. Since ozone is generated from oxygen, it will revert back to oxygen after use and leaves no toxic residues, benefiting both public health and hygiene as well as the environment. Ozone has also become the best medium to disinfect the air and, over the past three years, many hospitals and clinics have started using it to sterilise the air. Prominent's ozone products have been widely used by clients such as MTR Corporation, the government's Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), and major hotels. 'There is a growing demand for ozone technology in Hong Kong,' Mr Chan said. 'Although all public swimming pools are using ozone for water disinfection, more than 95 per cent of private pools are still using the traditional chlorine system. Also, the EMSD encourages water-cooling tower owners to use ozone instead of traditional chemical treatments. Once the public is aware of the merits of ozone, they will switch to the technology.' Prominent will recruit a marketing executive to promote its ozone machine and system and, in the long term, it plans to expand both its marketing and engineering team to cope with increasing demand.