17 May (Friday) I Expert Talk 8 - "An insider’s view of Green Tech & Education in Hong Kong"

17 May 2019 (Friday)

  • Ms. Maegan Cowan, Project Manager, University of Hong Kong Sustainability Office
  • Ms. Sole Riestra, Founder, Ecoed Life
  • Ms. Willy Kwong, Environmentalist, The Jane Goodall Institute HK
What are the best triggers to raise awareness to the kids?
  • Quiz based apps, like Ecoed, that students can play with each others for the sustainability quiz. 
  • Game rewards are very effective to engage the players. Also, the data captured is a powerful tool to understand what they know or don’t know. It also helps about what actions can be taken that can be used by the schools.
  • Assisted by education officers, the students build up a sense of ownership through designing their own advocacy roadmap.
  • For toddlers, bringing them to the wild and letting them appreciate the wonder of nature is a very good starting life. 
What are your favourite initiatives?
  • Willy recommended Jane Goodall Institute, which Incubates green leaders and shapes programs for schools and students.
  • Precious Plastic was suggested by Sole. It is an open source machine, tool and infrastructure to find solutions for existing plastic. People could build their own machines.
  • Maegan recommended The SEEDS program by University of British Columbia, which allows students to work on project related to sustainability and create societal impacts by using the campus as a Living Laboratory.
  • Raphaël mentioned about Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Students could work with experts from the foundation and the Environmental Change Institute from the University of Oxford for summer program.  
What skill sets are needed to pursue a career in the sustainability field?
  • The candidate shall possess corporate language and sustainability knowledge. In the past, people working on conservation will either work for the government or NGOs. Gradually, companies and corporations looking to be more sustainable will be looking for sustainability experts.
  • CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) are often thought being interchangeable. The job function and audience are very different as Willy showcased. CSR is more on the forefront and ESG is more looking to change the operation in a way. 
  • A two-day Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program offered by Centre for Sustainability and Excellence is available in Dubai in November.
    Books/ articles recommended by speakers:
    Question included:
    How to lead a successful sustainable project in schools?
    • The program shall be easy to implement. It is best to have a designated teacher to lead the project.
    • Having a 10-12 dedicated students to work on the project leads a bigger success.
    • Timing is very important. Teachers shall implement the projects after exams or before summer holiday.
    • Engage all parties, get the students involved.

    3 May (Friday) I Expert Talk 7 - "An insider’s view of Beauty & Healthcare Industry in Hong Kong"

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    3 May 2019 (Friday)

    • Ms. Diane van Zwanenberg, Founder, Coconut Matter 
    • Ms. Sion Chan, Campaigner, Greenpeace 

    How do consumers respond to the matter of microplastics towards the beauty products?
    • Sion mentioned that customers didn't really care about the microplatics but the functions of the products. Microplastics could be marketed as the function as the body scrub. The government regulations and corporates could take the leap to ban the use of microplastics.
    Which countries have banned microbeads?

    • In Hong Kong, major retailers imported the products that might not originate in these countries. Also, people may not be aware of the places that have been put a ban on microbeads. Education is needed. 
    What are the international standards related to beauty and healthcare products?
    • Diana from Coconut Matter mentioned that their products are Cosmos standard, which is the highest standard for beauty products. The standard covers all aspects of the sourcing, manufacture, marketing and control of cosmetic products in 12 chapters. Founded 4 years ago, Coconut Matter sourced the fairtrade coconut oils from Solomon Islands. Facing the challenge to put the products in department stores, Diane would like to strive a change to the environment. 
    Some common misconceptions:
    • The term "Organic" is not regulated in Hong Kong. While you may see a lot of products that are claimed to be organic, there is no legislation regulating it.
    • All coconut oils are the same. Take an example of refined coconut oil, the oil is pressed from dried coconut. To prevent the coconut from rotting during the transportation, it goes through a process called "RBD". These terms stand for Refined,  Deodorized and Bleached. This intense processing of oil may rip oil of its natural nutrients. 
      Books/ articles recommended by speakers:
      Some questions included:

      1. How do you identify the product contains microbeads?
      • On the back of products, search for the ingredients that usually go with "Poly". Or if you cannot understand the ingredients, there maybe issues.
      2. How are the cosmetic ingredients arranged on the label?
      • When listing ingredients, the ingredients need to appear in descending order calculated by either mass or volume.
      • In America, the regulation is as not as stringent as Europe. The ingredients (except colour additives) in concentrations of 1 per cent or more in descending order by volume or mass. 

        26 April I Expert Discussion 6 - An insider’s view of Sustainable Fashion in Hong Kong

        26 April 2019

        • Ms. Kayla Wong, Founder, Basics for Basics
        • Ms. Kay Wong, Co-founder, Fashion Clinic
        • Ms. Ren Wan, Co-founder, JupYeah
        The interesting points that were raised during the talk:
        • Fast fashion does not only related to big brands but Taobao. The affordable price leads to the high demand for the customers. Instead of buying clothes, consumers can
          - look for basic types that do not go with the trend.
          - do clothes swapping with your friends
          - repair, reshape & redesign the clothings by Fashion Clinic / The Mills.
        Books/ Movies recommended by our speakers:
        Some questions were raised:

        How could we organise our wardrobe?
        • Kay suggested that we can reference from Marie Kondo's method. Simplify the clothes into different categories. Folding all the items vertically so that you are able to see each of them. 
        Are recycling programs making people to buy more clothes?
        • There are no perfect solutions to recycle the garment. H&M's recycling initiatives only recycled 5-10% of collected clothing into fibres that can ultimately be made into new clothes. The remainder is “downcycled” into lower-value products such as insulation. Another alternative is  you could upcycle your clothes to tote/ slippers/ hats/ bags/ carpets. If you would like to learn more about repurposing, keep posted on JupYeah's facebook.
        Extended reading related to Fashion industry:

        2020 Edit :  Have a look at this guide - very informative https://www.beeco.green/blog/clothing-fabrics-sustainability/

        18 April I Expert Discussion 5 - An insider’s view of Sustainable Fashion in Hong Kong

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        19 April 2019

        • Ms. Nastasia Malatesta, Circular Fashion Programme Manager,  Redress
        • Ms. Cristina Kountiou, Fashion Marketing and Management Professor, SCAD Hong Kong
        • Ms. Agnes Pang, Founder, The Chief Project
        Moderated by Ms. Tanja Wessels, a founding member of Circular Community Hong Kong

        During the discussion, the speakers uncovered the behind the scene of fashion industry. From producing for 4 seasons to 52 seasons (once/week) in a year. Who are the catalyst who came up with this? What is the cost of it?
        Can fast fashion be green?
        • Fast fashion could be green and sustainable with the environment, economically and socially to support jobs and industries.
        • The big brands, which have the resources, shall make a change.
        Who made my clothes? Human right is a pressing issue in fashion industry.
        • Agnes, from fashion industry, revealed that she was tremendously shocked in a business trip to a factory in Bangladesh. The factory was owned by an army general and protected by armed guard. Actually, it turns out that a large part of factories in developing countries are run by the army who can exert tight control of their workforce. While visiting, Agnes saw no light into the working women's eyes, they were desperate and had no choice than to comply.  
        • The workers, even though working extensive hours, received a meagre salary.  
        What industry and consumers can activate to lower the impact toward the environment?

        Industry –
        • Keep inventory level low
        • Go for good quality
        • Limit the product variety. During the design process, samples are developed in full color range but only a few colors are chosen in the end. Virtual reality design is a promising approach towards that
        • Stop bringing new materials. Instead, let's use what we have now and keep it circular
        • Bring new solutions to the market : compostable clothing is a very interesting concept to explore
        Consumers –
        • Spread awareness - the general public is not aware of the problem
        • Shop second hand
        • Clothes Rental
        • Research and out reach the companies to ask questions
        • Organic cotton is inspected loosely. Instead, you may want to opt for natural fibre
        • Buy what you need/ not what you want
        • Keep in mind the impact of switching for other materials. For example: Stop buying either real fur or faux fur. Faux fur, even though kinder, is made from polyester which has its own challenges
        Books/ movies/ pod cast recommended by speakers:
        • The Pulse – an annual report that addresses the industry’s environmental and social performance.
        • Good On You – an apps that gives you the power to check brand ratings while you shop, discover ethical and sustainable fashion labels from around
        • Common objective – an intelligent business network for the fashion industry
        Some questions included:

        1. Are there compostable sustainable brands/ products? 
        • Future tech lab – they support initiatives that help new technologies and sustainable innovations connect, collaborate, and create.
        • Pangaia – they innovated lower down Jacket / Botanical dyes
        • Patagonia –  they held ethical and environmental issues close to its core.
        2. Where are the second hand shops in Hong Kong?
        12 April I Expert Discussion 4 - An insider’s view of Local Sustainable Food Chain

        12 April 2019

        • Ms Peggy Chan, Chef & Owner, Grassroots Pantry 豆苗居
        • Mr. Jan Lai, President, Green Sense 環保觸覺 
        • Ms. Jessica Yau, Founder, Trash2Treasure Association 永續尚源社
        • Ms. Ada Yip, CEO, Urban Spring 城泉

        The interesting points that were raised during the talk:

        Is sourcing locally possible in Hong Kong?
        • Grassroots Pantry, a plant based restaurant, sets an example that over 90% of food are organic and sourced locally, despite the price is 8 times more expensive than the imported food. They also switched to use coconut oil from Coconut Matter, which is certified organic, nutrient-dense, superfood laced, and anti-inflammatory than the vegetable oil. 
        • Urban Spring raised the question "Can water be sourced locally, from the local reservoir?" It is an interesting topic to discuss.
        Issues of food waste & disposable tableware/ plastic bottles:
        • Though extra serving will be offered per request by Grassroots Pantry, most of the food scrap generated are the leftover from customers, rather than the waste  in the kitchen. They got a food digester machine and turn the waste into soil. 
        • Recycling food waste is not a habit in Hong Kong.
        • Trash2Treasure pointed out that even though the food waste recycling project in housing estates is in place, the quality of compost is not suitable for soil as it is not well proportioned. The food waste is compressed and sent to landfill in the end. However, Trash2Treasure would recover 25% of food waste to grow mushroom.
        • Urban Spring found that changing the consumers' behaviour (to not buy bottled water) is difficult. They put a lot of effort to turn corporate to install the water station not only for customer experience but to do something good for the community.
        • Green sense found that the government does not stringently enforce the disposable cutlery ban
        How can you help on this issue?
        • Order the right amount of food to reduce food waste and also save your money.
        • Bring your own bottles (BYOB) and your own cutlery set.
        • Consuming less processed meat does not only help reduce carbon footprint but also lead a healthier life and say no to over packaging at the same time.
        • Having organic and natural food can benefit health and ensure we live sustainably.
        • Speak about the issue, e.g. tell the organiser that you opt for a reusable cup.
        Books/ Movies recommended by our speakers:
        Some questions included:
        • How can food operators reduce the food waste during dine in?
          Designing the menu is important. People may have a mis-conception that the larger the portion, the higher the value for money. However, balancing the nutritious value and proteins are more important. Restaurant operators could consider free add on per customer's request.

        • There are many new food tech arising, e.g. bubble tea shops. Do you think this will offset the efforts when the no plastic scheme or other initiatives are in placed?
          It is crucial for food innovators to think ahead for the whole life-cycle assessment of the products they use,  from production, packaging to disposal. 


        4 April I Expert Discussion 3 - An insider’s view of Sustainability in the Food & Beverage Industry

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        4 April 2019


        • Ms Ming Chan,  Co-founder, Hong Kong Community Composting
        • Ms. Michelle Hong, Co-founder,  Rooftop Republic Urban Farming
        • Ms. Wing Lee, Founder, We Use


        The interesting points that were raised during the talk:

        • By growing their own gardens with Rooftop Republic, people reconnected with food and developed an intimate relationship with the fruit and vegetables that they were raising. This is a crucial link that we lost by not being involved in the farming process in our urban jungle. We believe that all produces on shelves are just getting there automatically without seeing the farmer’s efforts and nature’s work to get them there. By getting more aware of that, we can treat what is in our plate with respect and waste less.

        • We Use witnessed consumer switch from convenience to getting engaged on their events’ impact. Enabling them to clear up their events location with minimum waste by providing them re-usable materials that they need offers optimized zero waste impact with convenience for the operator. From the mind of the organizers, looking for a change in the way they were operating, it is now rippling to consumer mind set who understand the need for a change that matters by bringing and using re-usable utensils instead of single use items.

        • At the end of our plate lifecycle, HK Community Composting is doing more than diverting food waste from the landfill. We may see them as waste but food scraps and waste are extremely valuable. Apart from landfill diversion, getting them composted brings powerful and much needed nutrients to our soils and will help them to grow more quality products in the next harvest. Compost is an asset and our waste should be treated with due respect, that’s what circular community is all about.

        What we can do to reduce the food waste:

        • Growing your own food – You will know how much effort you have put and put less to the bin. Farming also reduces one’s stress and it helps to lower the heat of the building.
        • Compost – Turn your food scrap into soil. The whole process will be circular and would not leave a trace out of the building.

        Books/Movies recommended by our speakers:

        Some questions raised:

        • Are there any facilities for treating the food waste by the Government?
          The government has launched a Pilot Composting Plant generated from commercial and industrial (C&I) Sectors developed at the Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre in mid 2008 to acquire experience.

          The Organic Resources Recovery Centre Phase 1 (ORRC1) treated 200 tonnes of organic waste (mostly food waste) per day for the production of biogas and compost, while the daily food waste is more than 3000 tonnes in 2008. The recovery rate was low. A rough figure that Hong Kong Community Composting has recovered 1 tonnes of food waste in 3 months’ time in 2019.

          Additional note: In February 2014, the Environment Bureau unveiled “A Food Waste & Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022” outlines the Administration’s target of reducing food waste disposal to landfills by 40% in 2022 and maps out four strategies to tackle food waste, namely reduction at source, reuse and donation, recyclable collection, and turning food waste into energy.
        • Where do you (Rooftop Republic) plant?

          As Hong Kong is a constrained place, apart from growing on rooftop, Rooftop Republic also helps restaurant to do micro green with led lights. Of course, it still takes up some energy. Having solar panel on the rooftop is the most ideal concept.


        29 March I Expert Discussion 2 - An Insider's View from Game Changers in Green Movement

        29 March 2019


        • Mr Philippe Li, Business Development Manager, Hong Kong Recycles 回收香港 
        • Mr Andy Li, Initiator and Project Manager, Missing Link - Polyfoam Recycling Scheme 迷失的寶藏: 發泡膠回收行動 
        • Mr Tom Ng, Representative, No More Junk Bay 正澳社區回收 


        It was a great evening to have three young local activists to talk about the obstacles encountered when doing recycling, the views towards 3-coloured waste separation bin scheme and actions that individuals and the organisations could help on this issue.

        Obstacles when engaging companies and individuals on recycling:

        • Some companies question about paying a price. While recycling bins are offered for free (or a fee is included in the property management fee) at commercial buildings or collection points at the street, the companies may not be willing to budget for recycling.
        • Some individuals lose confidence in recycling. Some recent news revealed glass in the recycling bins was dumped instead of being recycled. It is not transparent enough where the recyclables are diverted.
        • Procedures of government procurement. The use of lowest price tendering may have undesirable side effects, such as the quality of the work. Recyclers may only commit the minimal quantity as agreed on the bidding. 

        Views towards 3-coloured waste separation bin scheme?

        • Lack of categorisation. The current bins only collect plastic number 1 & 2 (i.e. PET bottles and HDPE bottles), accounting to 10% of total plastic waste.
        • Lack of organisation between the government and recyclers. While the separation bins are reported full, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), instead of the contractor, will collect the recyclables and send to the general trash stations.
        • Insufficient education. Public do not know what items could be put in the recycling bins. General questions such as: Can tissues be recycled? Can drink cartons (tetra pak) be recycled?

        What can individuals do?

        • Reduce – Think before you purchase.
        • Recycle – Clean the recyclables beforehand. Try to understand where they are sent to in the end.
        • Reuse – Reuse the items when possible. Every product has a life cycle. It associated with the production, use, and disposal of a given product.
        • Zero Waste Queen Bea Johnson mentioned about the 5Rs. For more details, click here.

        What can government do to increase the recycling rate?

        • Implement the municipal solid waste charging scheme.
        • Enact on the mandatory Producer Responsibility Schemes on glass/ plastic containers/
        • For instance, From April 2022, tax will apply to all plastic packaging manufactured in the UK, or imported (unfilled) into the UK, with less than 30% recycled content.
        • FEHD and EPD shall be merged. While FEHD is responsible for collection of trash and EPD is for the recycling bins, there are little co-ordinations between.

        Books/Movies recommended by our speakers:

        The interesting points that were raised during the talk:

        • Are there any places in Hong Kong to recycling chips bags? 
          There are no available facilities in Hong Kong to do the chips bags recycling. Since most chip bags are made from aluminium laminated with polypropylene, it cannot be recycled easily. In worldwide, for example, Terra Cycle does provide this.
        • Which countries have the highest recycling rates? 
          As of 2017, the top 3 countries were Germany (66%), Wales (64%) and Singapore (61%). The 99% figure for Sweden counts incineration for energy recovery as a form of recycling, which (even given the high level of efficiency of Sweden’s incinerators) is out of step with how the term “recycling” is generally used. Source: Eunomia


        22 March I Expert Discussion 1 - An Insider's View of Zero Waste Game Changers in Hong Kong

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        Credit to: JonathanJK

        22 March 2019


        • Ms Sonalie Figueiras, Founder, Green Queen
        • Ms Hannah Chung, Hong Kong Lead, Revolv
        • Ms Tamsin Thornburrow, Founder, Live Zero
        • Mr Raphaël De Ry, Founder, Edgar (Facilitator)


        The response of the event was overwhelming. The speakers addressed the challenges of living a zero waste life. Some important focus points of how individuals can help on the matter included:

        • To talk about the issues. Everyone could use their social media channels to spread the words 
        • Buy less stuff 
        • Reduce waste rather than recycle
        • To think about the whole lifecycle and create a circular economy

        Books/Movies recommended by our speakers:

        The interesting points that were raised during the talk:

        • What Hong Kong could do to stop providing single use plastics so much?
          Hannah suggested rightly that the change is happening because image conscious companies are increasingly looking to engage with their end users through environmental engagements. We also found out that the government is putting some steps in place (e.g mandatory composting at public hospitals)  but the movement is slow and as a result the change must come from the individuals and the community. Let's keep the good work and engage more people!  
        • What initiatives exist to train kids at schools?
          HK Community Composting is looking to partner with  schools with a composting program and educational training.
          - A Plastic Ocean Foundation is also offering educational platform for schools to engage their students.
          EcoDrive is building a platform for Kids to learn more about responsible consumption and the problems of single use plastics.

          If you know other initiatives or platforms, let us know and we will include them to an upcoming page on this topic. Please reach out to them if you want to know more...
        • What will be the approach to promote green living lifestyle to local? //How to raise awareness to the community?
          No Waste Mall is doing a great job in raising awareness and educating the local community. More actions are taking place and spreading the word and encouraging good practices will help us all to create better cohesion and solutions.

        • How to engage domestic helpers to participate in good practices and waste reduction?
          This was a great suggestion by Tamsin, we will be working together on a project to provide an easy guide for domestic helpers to understand the zero waste concepts and encourage best practices. Reach out if you have any ideas or recommendations.