The environmental group, WWF Hong Kong, celebrates yet another successful year of its Low-carbon Office Operation Programme (LOOP).
Since its launch in 2009, over 130 companies in Hong Kong have joined WWF’s LOOP in an effort to tackle and reduce carbon footprint. With strict guidelines, LOOP aims to enable Hong Kong companies with the tools and guidance they need in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and implement best practices throughout their workplace. One of the earliest adaptors of LOOP is a sourcing company based in Hong Kong by the name of Kingfisher, with European headquarters. We spoke to them and laid out their offices’ best practices that others can use as a model at their own workplace.
What is the nature of business at Kingfisher?
The mother company of Kingfisher runs chain stores mainly in Europe. The Hong Kong office is a sourcing office for Kingfisher in which we source products from China and Southeast Asia, before shipping to Europe.
The company has a global guideline for sustainability. Can you tell us more about that?
Its called Net Positive. We’d like to do more good. We have quite a few initiatives, for example, we source a lot of timber and must check its legality before being shipped to Europe. On top of that, we want to ensure the products are also certified as sustainable, sourced from sustainable forests. We target to use only certified timber by 2020. We currently have about 95% that are already certified, and are still working on it. Under Net Positive we also have energy reduction initiatives to reduce carbon footprint in all of our operations from retail stores in Europe, our own office in Hong Kong, to our supply chain.
What are some examples of simple office initiatives that Kingfisher has implemented, but has saved tonnes of carbon footprint?
Within our Hong Kong office, we’ve been doing a lot of recycling and have changed the functions of photocopying machines so that staff can depend less on printing paper. The photocopier will ask the staff member to confirm one last time if they really need to print the item. By doing this, we’ve reduced paper usage by 40% in the office. The use of telepresence is another one for meeting teams from another country. This helps us reduce travelling and carbon footprint.
LOOP also emphasises team engagement. Has Kingfisher been involved with community events?
We have an office campaign to promote a low-carbon concept not just within the office but also to the families of our staff. Since one of our suppliers provides us with light bulbs, we purchased a bunch of LED ones for our staff to take home to replace with their traditional bulbs. In total, we’ve given out 250 LED light bulbs and have saved an estimated amount of 7,400 kilowatts of energy. So we don’t only strive for change in the office, but we spread it to the homes of our staff.
Another activity that’s been very successful is tree planting in which we worked with Kadoorie Farm. We had a big turnout with 18 staff members participating in the programme. We also partner up with the organisation St. James’ Settlement in several community services, like educational workshops for children, clothing drives, and recycling of electrical appliances.
How do you engage with your employees and make these programmes attractive?
After running LOOP for several years, the staff has a basic understanding of recycling and energy saving. When we try to arrange an activity on a weekend or public holiday, it was very difficult to coordinate with the staff because of their personal obligations, so we tried on a working day to gauge participation, and it worked. We appreciate the flexibility of management for allowing us to perform these activities during office hours.
How do you hope this model will affect the sustainability of other businesses in Hong Kong?
WWF-HK also has a similar programme to LOOP but targeted at manufacturers to ensure that they manufacture their products in a sustainable manner – the Low-carbon Manufacturing Programme (LCMP). Although we don’t produce any products, we work with many suppliers that do, and we’ve introduced them to LCMP and encouraged to them to join us. It’s important to show our suppliers that we are engaged in this carbon reduction programme.
We have also helped WWF-HK promote this programme through several interviews. We opened up our office to a filming crew so that they could do a tour for the public’s viewing. We’ve also contributed our company’s team efforts and events for WWF-HK’s toolkit guidelines, so that other companies can use them as reference.
What are the next few years’ plans at the office?
We’re still pursuing more challenging targets to reduce carbon footprint. We’ll be moving offices soon and have hired contractors to help with the design and layout of our new office, such as using more natural lighting and light sensors. We’re also working on becoming a paperless office, which will take some time.
Photos courtesy of Kingfisher