We see our stakeholders – customers, suppliers, contractors, governments and the community – as partners in addressing our environmental performance. We therefore seek to engage them all in our environmental initiatives through the most appropriate means. These include the promotion of environmentally-friendly appliances, awareness raising activities, codes of practice, incentive schemes and experience-sharing sessions. Our ultimate goal is to work closely with our stakeholders to protect our environment, and encourage them to spread the message to their partners in turn.
Green Customer Products
Marketing our own domestic gas appliance brands give us ample scope to help our customer be environmentally friendly while saving on their gas bills at the same time. Since 2003, we have launched at least one energy-efficient appliance every year. These include inner-flame burners (IFB), which were introduced in 2003; super-flame built-in hobs launched in 2005 and high-efficiency food steamers in 2006. In 2008, a further high efficiency inner flame built-in hob model, which improves energy efficiency by 5.8% compared to conventional built in hobs, was launched.
On the mainland, mandatory energy efficient requirements came into force in June 2008. All our Bauhinia domestic water heaters meet the mandatory minimum Grade 3 requirement of 84%. We are working towards launching heaters which will meet the Grade 1 energy efficiency level of 96% in 20091.
1 Efficiency measurement in mainland China is based on net calorific value while measurement in Hong Kong is based on gross calorific value.
In Hong Kong’s commercial and industrial market, we introduced a new high efficiency condensing water heater pack with efficiency of up to 94%, which is 10% higher than the most efficient model in 2007. A new heat recovery feature has also improved energy efficiency in our steam cabinets, with the efficiency rising to over 80% in 2008.
A “Quality Appliance Award” scheme for authorised dealers has been in operation in Hong Kong since 2005. If the steam appliance sold by the dealer meets the stated requirements, including the thermal efficiency and safety prerequisites, the product receives a recognition, with the dealer being appropriately rewarded for selling an approved item. The share of approved steam cabinets increases to over 80% since the scheme first started.
Promoting the use of energy efficient and safe appliances even further, we advanced the requirement of food steamers in the scheme 2009, enhancing the steam appliances efficiency and safety.
Reducing waste when customers buy new gas appliances, we help them to properly recycle the old equipment and fittings (see our Waste Management section) and we have also replaced polyfoam in the packaging of new gas appliance since 2001. Currently packaging in over 90% of appliances from Asia sold in Hong Kong is polyfoam free, while packaging of all non-glass appliances are totally polyfoam-free. On the mainland, though polyfoam-free packaging is not yet practical, we are working with suppliers and customer installation staff both on packaging design and logistics processes to reduce the need for such packaging. A tree planting label on our appliances also spreads the message that the use of town gas lowers CO2 emissions when compared to other forms of energy.
Raising Awareness among Our Employees and Contractors
Over the years, we have organised and participated in numerous awareness programmes to raise environmental consciousness among our employees, contractors, customers and the general public. In 2008, about 960 employees, dealers and contractors, together with family members, participated in a number of these activities, ranging from seminars and eco tours to the collection of gifts for donation during festive seasons. Green hikes and tree planting events also play a regular part in our outreach awareness programmes. Additionally, a green creativity fund encourages employees to proactively submit improvement proposals on environmental issues, while green promotional messages are displayed on desktop screen savers on a monthly rotational basis, reminding employees to work in line with green practices.
A Green Ambassadors Club for Contractors and Dealers, which was formed in 2007, raises awareness among our contractors, initiating programmes to translate this awareness into practice. In 2008, these Green Ambassadors encouraged contractors to participate in our waste recycling programme, starting with waste streams most closely related to their operations such as retired safety helmets, batteries and unnecessary hand tools. Looking forward, we hope to motivate our contractors to join us in recycling a wider range of materials. Winners of our 2007 waste collection competition joined us on an eco-tour to Beijing in 2008, visiting solar-energy applications and wind-powered electricity generation facilities as well as our JV in Beijing.
Additional programmes such as Safety and Environmental Quizzes, Safety and Environmental Best Practice/Technology Applications and the Best Safety and Environmental Award, help to spread the message among our contractors, increasing knowledge and awareness of safety and the environment and improving performance in these areas.
In Partnership with Our Suppliers and Contractors
During the year, we revised our Purchasing Policy and introduced a CSR Code of Practice for Suppliers which spells out our expectations for suppliers with regard to environmental protection and related matters. Please see the Social Performance — Supply Chain Management section for details.
Since 2007, our pipelaying and installation contractors have been required to submit Environmental Management Plans (EMP) and ensure their compliance. The EMP must specify the environmental management strategy, applicable legal requirements, emergency response procedures as well as non-conformance and complaint handling procedures with regard to the project. Contractor briefings were also conducted to ensure a thorough understanding of the requirements.
Collaboration and Sharing with Special Interest Groups and the Public
Towngas supports every effort to promote greater awareness of climate change, both through our own initiatives and other meaningful programmes in the community. In 2008, we began the development of a carbon footprint calculator and an educational website on low carbon living, which will be launched in 2009.
During the year, we participated in the “Power Smart” contest and “Dim It! 6.21 Lights Out” campaign, both organised by Friends of the Earth (HK). In the first programme we pledged to lower electricity consumption during the hottest months of the year by avoiding the excessive use of air conditioning in our premises. In the second, we switched off all unnecessary lighting at our premises, plants and customer centres for an hour in the evening of the summer solstice, the longest day in the year, to promote energy conservation and awareness of light pollution. We were also one of the first organisations in Hong Kong to join the Environmental Protection Department’s “Green Hong Kong • Carbon Audit” programme as a “Carbon Audit • Green Partner”
Receiving recognition for our active support of waste reduction and recycling programmes as well as our green purchasing policies, we received the “Gold Wastewi$e” award from the Environmental Protection Department for the seventh year running. During the year, we also sponsored Friends of The Earth (HK)’s e-Card Design Competition under their “Green Christmas” programme as well as Environmental Protection Department’s “Source Separation of Domestic Waste – Model Family Competition”. We shared our experiences in green product, green packaging and the collection of abandoned appliances in a green purchasing forum organised by the Green Council.
Olympic Bag – Towngas’ first nation-wide
environmental awareness programme
In the PRC, with a “no-plastic bag” policy in full force in mid-2008 and riding on the public awareness generated by the “Green” Beijing Olympics, we held a reusable shopping bag design competition among our JVs. The winning designs were used by the individual companies to produce environmentally-friendly bags for distribution in their own environmental programmes and safety inspection visits to customers. In Qingdao where the sailing competitions took place, promotional activities were organised in conjunction with the Qingdao environmental authority and Sailing Committee of the Beijing Olympic to promote the “no-plastic bag” policy and green Olympic Games.
With the participation of over 30 JVs, it was the first Towngas nation-wide environmental awareness programme.