Stakeholder buy-in proven successful, now HKRU calls on fans to ‘tackle waste to win’
The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) is pleased to announce that with the support of a wide variety of event sponsors, patrons and stakeholders and the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Environmental Protection Department and Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the HKRU’s Green Sevens campaign has achieved remarkable success since its launch in 2014.
The campaign targets the essential elements of any successful environmental awareness program: waste reduction, re-use and recycling – as well as education and public outreach.
One vital, and highly visible, focus is on recycling food, plastic, tins and other waste generated from the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, with enhanced access to recyclable rubbish disposal areas in the Stadium and 100 percent sorting and recycling of all waste placed in recycle bins on-event.
Behind the scenes, greater focus on reduced resource use has paid dividends. Since being launched as a pilot program in 2014, total waste levels (in tonnes of materials generated and disposed of over the weekend) have been halved over the past three Sevens – largely as a result of intensive work with event suppliers to reduce their environmental footprint.
The Environmental Bureau (ENB), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) have worked closely with the Union, Stadium contractors and the main food and beverage suppliers to enhance waste reduction and recycling efforts over Sevens weekend.
This intensive outreach has been aided by the introduction of a ‘no set-up left over’ policy for contractors in 2015, under which vendors are required to remove all of their waste at their own cost in an effort to leave the venue as they found it.
Since 2014, suppliers have put in a concerted effort to effectively reduce the amount of materials they bring into the event and hence the quantity of waste they generate, contributing to a 50 percent reduction in refuse tonnage over the past three years.
Compared with a total of 210 tonnes of refuse collected in 2014 – the 2016 event generated just 101 tonnes of refuse – the vast majority of which was recycled.
Recycling efforts at last year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens also generated:
7.7 tonnes of paper waste separated, collected and delivered to recyclers.
2.1 tonnes of plastic waste separated, collected and delivered to recyclers
4.2 tonnes of glass bottles separated, collected and delivered to recyclers for manufacturing of eco-pavers and other construction materials.
500 kilograms of food waste separated, collected and delivered to the HKSARG’s Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting plant for treatment (composting)
170 liters of used cooking oil collected and delivered to a local biodiesel producer
Food management aspects of the Sevens, including recycling inedible food waste on-event, improving ordering to minimize potential waste and donating edible surplus food left over to local charity Food Angel, are also a primary focus of the campaign.
Last year’s Food Recovery and Donation efforts saw 550 kilograms of edible food, including meal boxes, cooked food, rice, bakery items and fruits and vegetables collected and donated to Food Angel – generating some 1,300 meals for Hong Kong’s neediest citizens.
The key stakeholders in the Green Sevens coalition include the HKSAR Government, represented by the ENB, EPD and LCSD, the Stadium operator; co-title sponsors Cathay Pacific and HSBC; as well as the official beer supplier Carlsberg Hong Kong Ltd; Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong; and Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong, the primary caterer for the Sevens.
Robbie McRobbie, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the HKRU lauded the campaign’s success:
“The HKRU is delighted at the support we have received from like-minded organizations to ensure that the pitch at the Stadium is not the only thing that is green during the Sevens.
“By focusing, with our partners, on how we manage the Sevens, we have achieved significant results in a relatively short timeframe. We now ask that spectators, from home and abroad, join us to do their bit to help make the Sevens and Hong Kong even cleaner and greener,” added McRobbie.
Ms Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment, said:
“We are delighted at the success of our Green Sevens campaign. With the support of key governmental and non-governmental stakeholders we have achieved significant waste reduction during the Sevens and have also helped identify a series of best practices that we are eager to share with other event organizers in Hong Kong.”
“Our focus to date on reducing the quantity of materials used has paid off. Now, with all recyclable materials placed in recycling bins guaranteed to avoid the landfill, we urge everyone at the Sevens to ‘tackle waste to win’,” she added.
HKRU calls on fans to step up their game
The support of Stadium management and the event contractors and suppliers has helped drive significant reductions in waste generated from the Sevens, and now the HKRU is calling on the fans to step up their game and ‘tackle waste to win’.
With over 400,000 pints of beer sold over the weekend, the public has an important role to play in supporting the campaign, especially in re-using plastic pitchers (which will entitle spectators to a HK$10 discount on beverage orders) and ensuring they deposit plastic cups in the designated recycling zones and bins.
To improve recycling on the concourses, the LCSD has established 18 recyclables collection zones. The zones are marked with signage and other communications materials on-site including posters and improved labelling of recycling bins.
LCSD is also introducing new plastic cup and pitcher recycling centers in 2017 to help facilitate the recycling of unneeded plastic cups and pitchers on-event.
For its part, the HKRU has enlisted a team of Green Sevens student ambassadors from City University of Hong Kong to participate in a variety of awareness-raising initiatives – both inside and outside the Stadium, along with the Government’s Big Waster mascot.
This year, Big Waster, Ms Loh and members of the Green Sevens ambassadors team will participate in the famed Hong Kong Sevens March Past on Saturday afternoon – where they will help raise awareness about the importance of recycling and waste reduction to more than 5,000 mini and youth rugby players taking part in the March Past.
Big Waster will also visit other HKRU-organized rugby tournaments in the event week, including the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier where event patron Christine Loh will help officiate the opening ceremony. The green initiatives will also be carried through to the HKSEVENS Central festival in Chater Garden and across the street from the Stadium at the Hong Kong Sevens Village.
The student ambassadors will also stress the Green Sevens message in their orientation for the over 8,000 students hosted by the HKRU to the Sevens on Friday evening, 7 April, helping to ensure that the environmental message reverberates through and beyond the pulsating Hong Kong Stadium during the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
During the weekend, the Green Sevens ambassadors and Big Waster will also interact with the public and assist with proper recycling on the concourses.
The HKRU will also leverage the captive audience of 40,000 daily spectators at the Hong Kong Sevens to raise awareness of environmental issues.
Tackle Waste to Win promotional signage will be prominently visible inside the Stadium and on the message board over the event weekend while campaign messaging will be broadcast to the crowds via the stadium announcers and the Diamond Vision Screen.
HKRU joins global Green Sports Alliance; HKSARG readies Green Events Guidelines
The success of the program has seen the Hong Kong Rugby Union invited to join the international Green Sports Alliance, based out of the United States, becoming the only rugby sevens tournament participating in the Alliance.
The program has also helped to spur the government’s development of a set of Green Event guidelines for local event organizers to enhance their environmental performance.
The HKSARG has enlisted the support of Hong Kong’s Business Environment Council to help take the development of Green Events to the next level.
Based on the success achieved by all parties at the Sevens, the BEC is implementing these best practices into a future Green Event guidelines document targeting a variety of large and small scale events in Hong Kong.
With the support of all spectators and the wider community, HKRU is confident that together we can tackle waste to win.