Visionary system of sustainability

Scarlet Ma

Environmental performance

WHEN A COMPANY starts discussing environmental policies, the first question asked usually pertains to the cost and financial benefits such policies would bring.

But that, in fact, is the wrong place to start, said John Chai, managing director of Fook Tin Technologies, which last night won, for the second time, the Grand Award in Environmental Performance at the Hong Kong Awards for Industries.

'Environmental performance is not measured by monetary gain,' Mr Chai said. 'It is about fulfilling responsibilities. Environmental performance brings about economic benefits when the supply chain becomes more energy efficient and the cost of production comes down.

'However, this shouldn't be the reason for environmental protection. We do not own the environment, we are a part of it. As responsible manufacturers, it is our duty to evaluate the impact of our daily operations on the environment, minimise any harm done and try to compensate, even if it means having to spend.

'If we do not take care of our own home, we and the next generation will suffer the consequences.'

Mr Chai pointed out that environmental performance was considered a basic requirement by companies worldwide. Corporate entities that did not want to end up as dinosaurs in the business and manufacturing landscape would have to change their thinking and adopt new ways of running a business, he said.

Hong Kong was not doing badly, Mr Chai said, but the territory still had a long way to go before it caught up with other developed countries.

'We are proud that we have the most systematic management in the world. In the future, could we be as proud of our environmental performance and our green products? I am hoping to see that day come,' he said.

Andrew Thomson, chief executive of the Business Environment Council and chairman of the final judging panel, said Fook Tin had always exceeded expectations. The company, which took the big prize four years ago, has taken a significant step forward with its latest achievement.

'It was a very big encouragement to us when we won the Grand Award in 2003,' said Mr Chai, pointing out that back then only big companies received the award.

'That we got it as a manufacturer proved that both big and small companies can have good environmental results. We have been continuously improving our system, and we have reached a new level of sustainable development. It is my hope that our industry peers will learn and benefit from our experience.'

Fook Tin's win was based on its visionary sustainability management system and strategies, rather than any single environmental project.

The company had demonstrated a strong commitment to environment management and principles, and made itself more accountable to its stakeholders in this aspect, Fook Tin said.

Besides boasting multiple certification for international quality standards under the International Standards Organisation (ISO), Fook Tin was the first company in the world to be awarded the IECQ QC 080000 HSPM (Hazardous Substance Process Management).

This certification is an endorsement that the manufacturer has taken all measures to ensure its entire production process is free of hazardous substances, thus meeting specific local, national and international requirements.

Fook Tin has also incorporated life cycle assessment (a product's interaction with the environment, from conception to disposal) and eco-product design management in all its products, as well as adopting a green supply chain. All these measures help to deepen an understanding of what happens to the environment at every stage of a product's passage along the supply chain, while suggesting ways to minimise any negative impact.

Fook Tin's exemplary environmental measures range from the elimination of dubious chemical components used at an automatic painting facility to supporting tree planting and other greening ventures.

The company's stringent handling of waste reduction and materials conservation were important aspects of the environmental initiative.

'Fook Tin, a Hong Kong-owned family business, should be an inspiration to other Hong Kong enterprises in adopting environmental practices,' adjudicator Mr Thomson noted. 'If more companies did so, it would do much to help improve the quality of the environment and life in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta.'

Award winners

MTR Corporation

Swire Coca-Cola HK

The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation

Certificate of Merit

Beverly Hill (Estate Management)

Cheung Kong Center Property Management

Goodwell Property Management (Sceneway Garden, Vista Paradiso, DeerHill Bay, Laguna Verde)

Kwong Wah Hospital

Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong

Shui On Properties Management

And the judges said:

Fook Tin Technologies provides its customers an integrated business solution including the design, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of weighing instruments that are applicable to consumer, commercial, industrial and medical sectors; health care and medical devices, and magnitude sensors, according to the award organiser.

The Business Environment Council said: Fook Tin undertakes sustainable development as a business strategy. The company's sustainable development policy is the cornerstone of its integrated management system, which includes management of quality, productivity, environmental performance, occupational health and safety, and hazardous substance process control.

The council said Fook Tin's environmental management philosophy was comprehensive, systematic, integrative and forward-looking.

Its outstanding programmes include the implementation of an eco-product design management system, which evaluates and minimises the environmental impact of its products at each

stage of its life cycle. Benefits of the system include material resource saving, production energy efficiency and increased end-of-life product reuse and recycling rate.