Green activists outraged at Apple Store's after-hours lighting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 May, 2013, 8:50am

It's 2am and Causeway Bay begins to empty of people. Quiet darkness descends upon the streets - except at the Apple Store at Hysan Place, which looks open for business.

Empty of customers, the store nevertheless has about 500 lamps and spotlights burning bright on all three floors, the light passing through Apple's signature glass walls onto the pavement.

And that has raised concerns of green activists, who have been pressing hard to fight for tougher control over light nuisance.

They say the absence of regulations governing light pollution in Hong Kong has opened the door to abuse.

"It is outrageous for Apple to turn a blind eye to energy conservation and the nuisance created by the lighting. It reminds us of the urgent need to regulate light pollution," said Hahn Chu Hon-keung, from Friends of the Earth (HK).

Acting upon public complaints, Chu visited all three of the city's Apple stores last month. Two of the stores, one at the IFC Mall in Central and the other at Hysan Place, kept store lighting on well past midnight. The former closes at 9pm while the latter no later than 11pm.

The Kowloon Tong store, at Festival Walk shopping mall, did slightly better, with about half of its lights out after midnight, despite closing for business at 10pm.

Chu said the abuse of lighting cast Apple's environmental pledges in doubt. "If they can't even switch off their lights, it is doubtful this international brand truly takes its environmental responsibilities seriously," he said. A spokeswoman for Apple based in Beijing would not comment on the criticism about store lighting, but pointed to the company website that outlines the tech giant's environmental policy.

It is understood some Apple Stores keep their lights on after business hours for reasons related to cleaning, security and product storage. But when the lights are turned off differs from store to store.

A government task force on light pollution is expected to meet on Wednesday to outline ways to curb light nuisance. It is expected to discuss whether introducing legislation or setting mandatory times for lights to be turned off is the better approach.

Earlier, a University of Hong Kong study found that the sky over the main shopping district in Tsim Sha Tsui could be the brightest in the world.