‘Green Sevens’ scores with top Hong Kong environment official

Campaign halves amount of refuse collected at rugby extravaganza with recycling proving a winner with fans

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 8:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 10:52pm

Dramatic reductions in the amount of waste produced at the Hong Kong Sevens have set a standard for other leading sports events to follow, the government’s key environment protection official said.

The amount of refuse collected has been halved over the past three years thanks to a green campaign that has transformed the annual rugby extravaganza at Hong Kong Stadium.

Introduced as a pilot scheme in 2014, the “Green Sevens” campaign has slashed the total waste level – materials generated and disposed of over three days – at the 40,000-seat venue from 201 tonnes to 101 tonnes, mostly as a result of intensive work with suppliers.

“This is a massive job, something Hong Kong can be proud of as we will not see this happen in other rugby tournaments around the world,” Christine Loh Kung-wai, undersecretary for the environment, said on Thursday.

“This was initiated by the Hong Kong Rugby Union three years ago and, with the support of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, we have achieved significant waste reduction and have also helped identify a series of practices that we are eager to share with other event organisers.”

Loh said the government was also working with two other top sports events, the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon and the New World Harbour Race, in a similar project. The newly established Formula E race, which will be held on the Central Harbourfront for the second time later this year, would be the next target.

Of the refuse collected last year, a significant portion went on to be recycled.

This included 7.7 tonnes of paper and 2.1 tonnes of plastic. In addition, 4.2 tonnes of glass bottles were delivered to recyclers to be turned into paving stones and other construction material. Some 500 kilograms of food waste also went to the Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting Plant for treatment, with 170 litres of used cooking oil delivered to a biodiesel producer.

For edible food, 550 kilograms of meal boxes, cooked food, rice, bakery items and fruits and vegetables were collected before being donated to Food Angel – generating 1,300 meals for Hong Kong’s neediest citizens.

Fans are now being urged to help make the Sevens an even greener tournament.

“The union is delighted at the support we have received from the like-minded organisations to ensure the pitch at the venue is not the only thing that is green during the Sevens,” HKRU deputy chief executive Robbie McRobbie said.

“By focusing, with our partners, on how we manage the Sevens, we have achieved significant results in a relatively short time frame.

“We now ask the spectators, from home and abroad, to do their bit to help make the Sevens and Hong Kong even cleaner and greener.”

Fans in the stadium can help the “Tackle Waste to Win” campaign by reusing plastic pitchers and ensuring plastic cups are deposited in designated recycling zones and bins.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department will establish 18 collection zones for recyclables on the concourses and introduce new centres to help with the recycling of unwanted plastic cups and pitchers.

The HKRU will also enlist a team of Green Sevens student ambassadors to participate in a variety of awareness-raising initiatives, both inside and outside the stadium, along with the government’s “Big Waster” mascot.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Bureau said the success of the green programme had pushed the government to draw up guidelines for more sports events.

“Following the implementation of these good practices at the Sevens, we have enlisted the Business Environment Council to develop a set of guidelines for future sports events,” she said. “At this stage, we are happy to provide advice for any sports event organisers if they need help on environment protection issues.”