Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens drives fifth year of Green Sevens Reduced food and beverage wastage a priority in 2018

28 March 2018

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) is pleased to announce an augmented set of initiatives for the fifth annual Green Sevens campaign as part of its ongoing mission to reduce the environmental impact of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and inspire improved environmental stewardship for Hong Kong’s major events, backed by the slogan "Tackling Waste!"

The key stakeholders in the Green Sevens coalition include the HKSAR Government, represented by the Environmental Bureau (ENB), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD); 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.

In 2017, Hong Kong’s Business Environment Council took up an expert role in the campaign, providing HKRU with consultancy and the monitoring of environmental performance, as well as supporting the government’s work to encourage green management of events across Hong Kong.

Alongside its recycling efforts in 2018, the HKRU is also helping to demonstrate the value of “upcycling”, with all the medals presented to the Mini and Youth showcase participants over the weekend made from recovered materials by St James' Settlement in Wanchai.

Speaking from the famous Hong Kong Sevens pitch on a pre-tournament Stadium visit, Mr Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, said, “The Rugby Sevens has been a pioneering partner with EPD for some years.We have made good progress and I’m sure we will continue to work on our respective areas.”

Plenty to eat and drink, less to waste

A particular focus of this year’s campaign is on reducing wastage and environmental impact from food and beverage consumption. For the tens of thousands of Sevens spectators, perhaps the most visible measure will be the treatment of used food and drink containers.

With beer reportedly a major feature of the Sevens for some attending fans – more than 400,000 pints are expected to be consumed over the weekend – the $10 re-use incentive for refilling jugs is a fruitful way to both limit wastage and raise awareness.

The public has in the past responded well to this initiative, re-using plastic jugs (which entitles spectators to a HK$10 discount on beverage orders) and ensuring they deposit plastic cups in the many designated recycling zones and bins inside the Stadium.

In another exciting initiative, HKRU has agreed with all food and beverage vendors that straws will no longer automatically be given with purchases. If a straw is requested, it will be a paper one, provided by HKRU partner The Last Straw, a local non-profit working to eliminate the use of plastic straws.

Last year’s Food Recovery and Donation efforts saw 386 kilogrammes of edible food from caterers, donated to Food Angel – generating around a thousand meals for distribution to Hongkongers having difficulty securing adequate food.

The 2017 Sevens also supported a government initiative to recycle cooking oil used by food suppliers, with a total of 2,391 litres of used oil collected and delivered to a local biodiesel producer, six times the previous best at the event.

Mr Wong supported the emphasis on making better use of the food supplies we have, saying, “Food waste is a major challenge for Hong Kong and I’m pleased that excess food from the Hong Kong Sevens will be going [to Food Angel] where it can be used.”

The faces of Green Sevens

Under a new initiative, the 2018 Green Sevens campaign is being championed by two Green Ambassadors – Hong Kong rugby internationals James Cunningham and Jamie Tsang, who will be ably supported in their duties by a “Green Team” of environmental studies students from Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong.Also flying the flag for the campaign is a Sevens favourite, the “Big Waster” mascot, who will once again be exhorting fans to take up the environmental challenge.

The ambassadors and Big Waster will participate in the famed Hong Kong Sevens March Past on Saturday afternoon – to help raise awareness of the importance of recycling and waste reduction among the over 5,000 mini and youth rugby players taking part, as well as the 40,000 spectators and millions watching the live broadcast.

A video story featuring Big Waster and the two ambassadors will be hitting social media channels ahead of Sevens weekend, encouraging everyone to share the importance of “Tackling Waste!”

Supporting a greener Hong Kong

Drawing on the shared experience of the Green Sevens campaign, the Hong Kong Government has this year published a ‘Green Event Guidebook’, providing guidance on best-practice environmentally conscious management across the events sector.

Mr Wong highlighted the contribution that the Green Sevens campaign has made to the Guidebook. “Our collaboration with the Hong Kong Rugby Union has been most helpful in our development of the Guidebook and we hope that more organisations will take the effort to make events greener.”

Other initiatives

Out of sight of most spectators, careful coordination with event contractors has in recent years seen total waste levels (in tonnes of materials generated and disposed of over the event) held to around half of those before the programme – thanks to a ‘no set-up left over’ policy and continued efforts from suppliers to reduce their environmental footprint. Compared with a total of 210 tonnes of refuse collected in 2014, the 2017 event generated just 118 tonnes of refuse – the vast majority of which was recycled.

2017 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Recycling totals:

  • 8.2 tonnes of paper waste separated, collected and delivered to recyclers.
  • 1.9 tonnes of plastic waste separated, collected and delivered to recyclers
  • 4.0 tonnes of glass bottles separated, collected and delivered to recyclers for manufacturing of eco-pavers and other construction materials.
  • 940 kilograms of food waste separated, collected and delivered to the HKSARG’s Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting plant for treatment (composting)
  • 2,391 litres of used cooking oil collected and delivered for conversion to biodiesel

To aid recycling on the concourses, the LCSD has established 18 recyclables collection zones. The zones are marked with signage on-site including posters and improved labelling of recycling bins.

Robbie McRobbie, Chief Executive Officer of the HKRU, said, “Working with our partners, the EPD, LCSD and our suppliers, we have been pushing to minimise the environmental footprint of the Sevens for five years now, and I’m very pleased with the progress we are making.

“I am especially proud that the HKRU’s experience of meeting these environmental challenges has been of value to the Government as it set out its recent guidelines on green events,” he added.

“It’s not just a once-a-year effort either. We continuously search for environmental improvements and implement them across all of our venues and activities. The Sevens is our most public opportunity to put out this vital message, and we believe it enhances the event as spectators join in the green spirit, just as enthusiastically as they join in the rugby spirit.

“We’re not finished yet, by a long way. We will keep up the effort to do even better,” Mr McRobbie vowed.