Earth Chat (SME Series): Go plastic free, Say no to bottled water

Plastic waste is a major source of marine and environmental pollution that poses a great threat to natural ecosystems and human health. It is the second largest constituent of municipal solid waste in Hong Kong.

According to the "Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong" report published by the Environmental Protection Department, the average daily disposal of plastic waste in 2021 was 2,331 tonnes, with plastic bottles accounting for 8.7% (202 tonnes per day) of all plastic waste.[1] To alleviate plastic pollution, it is necessary to reduce waste at source. Minimizing the use of bottled water is one of the feasible solutions.

Composition of MSW disposed of at landfills in percentages in 2020 and 2021 (Image source: EPD)

Implementing Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives helps to enhance corporate image and customer loyalty, strengthen competitiveness and facilitate long-term business development. Richform Holdings Limited mainly provides drinking water systems, and its daily operation is closely related to environmental protection. The installation of water filtration systems and water dispensers helps to reduce bottled water consumption and subsequently plastic waste.

In addition to assisting schools to implement the "No Plastic Bottle Campaign", we launched the "Plastic-free Hotel Programme" which encourages hotels to stop providing bottled water to guests and install water filtration equipment and water dispensers in rooms, lobbies, corridors and dining areas instead. Up till now, four hotels have carried out the programme. For instance, let’s say there is a total of over 1,400 hotel rooms. If each room saves two water bottles per day, then over 1 million plastic bottles can be reduced each year.

Water filtration systems and water dispensers (image source: Richform Holdings Limited)

Meanwhile, the government has been working to accelerate plastic reduction measures. The Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs has recently announced the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Bill,[2]which proposes to ban hotels and motels from providing free in-room bottled water, and is expected to be implemented in Q4 2023 at the earliest.

The "Plastic-free Hotel Programme” is therefore a four-win solution. For hotels, it will not only free up plenty of storage space and save manpower, but also help build a positive "green hotel” image. Moreover, since the filtered tap water still retains the minerals and trace elements required by the human body, hotel guests would be able to enjoy quality drinking water that is beneficial to their health. Third, as the filter cartridges need to be replaced annually, this programme is of great benefit to the sustainable business growth of our company. In the long run, the reduction of bottled water consumption will cut down plastic waste, lower carbon emissions and contribute to a sustainable society.

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