Greening of blue-chip firms How green are our blue chips? According to JP Morgan, 60 per cent of Hang Seng Index companies report sustainability issues on their websites but only half of these publish detailed reports with meaningful data and targets. That is nothing for Hong Kong to be proud of but it is an improvement. The brokerage said environmental reporting went back only 10 years when CLP Holdings issued an environmental or sustainability report in 1997. Five years ago almost 20 big corporations followed suit. This year, a dozen blue-chip firms reported on the environment, including four utilities (CLP, HK Electric, Hong Kong & China Gas and MTR Corp), three oil companies (PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC), two banks (HSBC and its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank), Swire Pacific and its associate Cathay Pacific, and China Mobile. But apart from Swire, Hong Kong's deep-pocketed landlords were notable by their absence from the list. Swire, with more than 10 million square feet of office space, has met Hong Kong Buildings Environment Assessment Method standards with its planned office tower One Island East reusing or recycling 99 per cent of construction and demolition waste. 'No incentive' to fight waste We can't help but laugh at a reader's comment on PCCW's new environmental initiative which provides an eBill for its fixed-line customers. However, there is one catch. The eBill method works only monthly, not quarterly. The quarterly system involves good old-fashioned snail mail. So the choice is clear - customers can pay PCCW 12 times a year without wasting paper or postage, or they can return to billing via post and pay PCCW four times a year while wasting time and paper. 'Effectively, there is no incentive to fight pollution and waste,' wrote reader Mark Greene. '[On] the contrary, they reward you with convenient time-saving options [quarterly billing] only if you maintain a wasteful paper statement billing service.' HSBC's grant for green study While we are on the subject of avoiding waste and helping the environment, there are some big companies out there making a difference. HSBC this week launched a US$100 million climate partnership programme in Beijing with four global environment groups. The programme calls for restoring 3,000 square kilometres of wetlands in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, researching carbon pooling in subtropical and temperate forests on the mainland and carrying out studies in Beijing, Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta on energy-efficient cities. HSBC is the world's first carbon-neutral bank. Down-to-earth rule for Star TV Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is pushing for a greener approach to business also. His local unit, Star TV, recently implemented a new policy limiting unnecessary travel after a consultant advised it that staying put was the most effective way of reducing carbon dioxide at the corporate level.