Environmental protection has become a key concern for many corporations. As such, Hong Kong's leading container operator, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) has adopted a number of green initiatives to promote sustainable development within the container terminal industry.
With a mission to conduct business in an ethical and socially responsible manner, HIT has made environmental protection an integral part of its company's policy, says Eric Ip, managing director, HIT. "We're mindful of the need to protect our environment now and for the future and the company actively finds ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in all our operations."
HIT's policy is to comply with environmental regulations and statutory requirements and it has set internal guidelines regarding issues such as preventing pollution, conserving resources and reducing waste. In particular, the HIT environmental steering committee is responsible for formulating the relevant policies and strategies and monitoring the company's performance.
The company's latest green initiative, aligned with its business development plan, was the introduction of 17 electric rubber-tyred gantry cranes (eRTGC) earlier this month. This forms part of the first phase of the company's HK$140 million crane-electrification programme which aims at converting 81 diesel-powered cranes by 2010.
By replacing diesel with electricity, the system significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of energy needed for operations. Replacing diesel with electricity has also lowered daily energy costs by 80 per cent.
In addition, the company has switched completely from using industrial diesel oil to ultra-low-sulphur diesel for its equipment and vehicles since April this year to further reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Plans are in the pipeline to convert 31 cranes to diesel-electric hybrids in the near future, and to review the system continuously to enable further modifications and improvements.
"As a container operator, we greatly rely on mobile equipment. The eRTGCs enhance not only business efficiency, but also the quality of our operations as well as the safety of ground staff," Mr Ip points out. "In striking a balance between business initiatives and environmental protection, we always explore ways to improve our operations while protecting the environment by reducing emissions."
Employees at every level implement HIT's green initiatives. The HIT environmental steering committee, consisting of managing directors, general managers and department heads, regularly brief staff on the company's latest environmental objectives. It also organises a variety of activities and projects to enable employees to propose and execute environmentally sustainable ideas, says Simon Wong, general manager, engineering, HIT.
"All our staff computers have screen savers with environmental protection themes such as using less paper and switching off computers at the end of the working day," says Mr Wong who is also chairman of the committee. "Our emails end with a reminder to reduce printing and office posters, and provide tips on easy-to-do green initiatives around the office. This increases staff awareness of environmental protection both at work and at home."
The committee's green projects include an annual environmental protection week, various competitions and the recycling of compact discs, battery chargers and toys. The company uses recycled paper for its printed materials and employees are encouraged to dress lightly in summer to reduce the need for air-conditioning. Staff are also provided with HIT-branded reusable shopping bags for personal use.
When it comes to recruitment and training, creativity is at the top of the agenda. HIT provides comprehensive training for new staff, as well as regular workshops and training programmes for existing employees, Mr Wong says.
The company encourages its engineers to design new technology items and develop new engineering techniques, which are then widely used in the company's daily operations.
"Employees in the engineering department have the chance to learn about the latest technology and equipment and experienced engineers have access to overseas exchange programmes, enabling them to work on projects at the parent company Hutchison Port Holdings' international ports operations," says Mr Wong. "This gives them the opportunity to share their knowledge with overseas engineers and to gain field experience in an international setting."
With rapid technological advances and changing legal requirements, exposure to projects related to environmental protection is a definite advantage for young graduates.
"This is particularly true for engineers," Mr Wong concludes. "We hope to recruit talented individuals who have the right skills and knowledge, as well as an awareness of the environment, so that we can work together to make our operation more efficient and at the same time protect the environment."