GreenNet@PolyU, Issue 18 (Feb 2019) (Text Version)

For graphical version, please click here.


1. Feature Story

Sustainability and design in the eyes of students

Sustainability is probably one of the most mentioned terms in recent years. To some people, sustainability means caring for the environment, resources, and nature. To some others, this may be a term that takes a deeper socio-economic perspective. What does sustainability matter to students at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University? How will these young people approach it and share its associated concepts and ideas with their peers? Some of the University’s design students are here to tell their stories.

In two consecutive years, the Campus Sustainability Office collaborates with the School of Design to reach out and align like-minded Higher Diploma students who come up with innovative and trend-setting ideas to promote sustainability practices. These are the students taking up the Cooperative Projects, and they are required to engage in direct contact with the Campus Sustainability Office, work with briefs, deadlines, project planning, scheduling, research and analysis, in order to deliver appropriate design creatives addressing the desired effects and the context of driving a sustainable culture on campus. “We are more than happy to welcome their suggestions and works,” suggested by the Head, Campus Sustainability Mr. Joseph Chan. “Their design proposals are visually stunning and engaging. Their ideas are real challenges to some conventional strategies in conducting advertising campaigns of a similar nature.”

Potter Chung, Rachel Kwok, Sherry Tse, Valerie Choi, Angus Chu teamed up in October 2018 to deliver a video project to further the mission of bringing students together to appreciate trees and nature on campus. “Trees sit quietly around us, and people tend to neglect their presence. Trees may not all look appealing and fancy, but this should not discriminate their importance in our landscape,” these students said, “And we wanted to make others reflect on themselves how they need and can obtain some exposure from nature. The fact is we can all communicate with the trees in certain ways.”

Yes, trees can heal people even at a distance, and this concept is being vividly presented in the students’ video by a personified ‘tree fairy’. “With this story plot, we are confident that the video will be able to impress the most audience and make them review their relationship with these still-standing trees. It can extend into lessons about what we can do to appreciate the nature around us. Nature has been and is always our silent yet intimate friend and listener,” they explained.

These students picked a story-telling communicative strategy in their video project instead of a traditional and instructional manner. Such a choice also reveals their reading about how sustainability is being interpreted and perceived by today’s youngsters. “We have been exposed to sustainability concepts in our secondary school days. Sustainability is not a new or foreign term. Nevertheless, young people need more encouragement and motivation as they won’t develop positive habits if they don’t associate themselves with these concepts. The campus setting should be able to function as a favorable environment to drive and facilitate behavioral change,” they remarked. “And we would love to participate in projects on sustainability or to portray the sustainability messages in our future works. Sustainability is something of importance to every individual and society.”

Another group of design students came up with an out-of-the-box design to address sustainability. Cheng Chung Ue, Cheung Ka Sin, Nicholas Cheung, Isadora Lam, Wong Ho Lam, and Blake Lee teamed up with a mission to develop attractive posters that will help convince their peers to take action to reduce plastic usage.

Blake explained in detail how the team worked hard to prepare and research for their design project. “We spent some time researching into the recycling behavior of campus students and their attitudes towards the use of disposables. We were at the canteens making the counts, and we observed quite a lot of our peers bringing in their own reusable containers to carry their takeaway meals. That’s in fact quite encouraging, but more others are to be motivated as well.”

In the eyes of these innovative students, what mattered more was about motivating the campus users to make changes. With a truckload of plastic entering the oceans and the landfills possibly every minute, we may not need a surplus of information to learn we all have the responsibility to reduce plastic waste we generate. “Actions speak more. Young people need something attractive, striking, and eye-opening to make them reflect on their behavior and habits. They need media formats that tell the sustainability message clearly and creatively. We spent quite some time discussing and exploring this, and we were determined to pick and feature plastic items around us which we are so familiar with.” Blake said.

“We set a dramatic scaling up of these commonly-seen plastics which will excite viewers to get a quick grasp on their forms. We had a color palette that sharply contrasts, creating a vibrant and playful design. All these combined to reinforce a message which was repeatedly shown across our series of posters – that we should all ‘run away’ from plastics and going plastic-free is trendy, fashionable, and doable.” Their design was widely acclaimed and caught the eyes of other students and teachers when they showcased their posters in their project exhibition.

These design students worked to furnish projects to consolidate sustainability concepts on campus. “We need young minds and creativity to help in our sustainability education. They have truly helped us a lot,” Joseph concluded. “Sustainability is more than an academic discipline or a societal issue. It’s a lifestyle – people need to be repeatedly educated, reminded, and motivated about how they can contribute to the environment and be less of a burden to it.” Yes, it is not that difficult to understand. We can all make some conscious choices in our life and make a few switches in our habits to help save our suffocating earth.



2. Sustainable Campus in Action

No straw on campus since October 2018

The impact of small plastics in the marine system which extends to affect food chain is drastic and undesirable. To cast light on this issue, PolyU has launched the ‘No Straws Every Day’ since 15 October 2018, and campus catering outlets will not give out any straw as a default arrangement unless users requested it. Catering staff would also explain to users, where necessary about the ‘no straw’ arrangement. It is a crucial part of the University’s long-term strategy to build a collective strength across the campus in fighting plastic pollution. It is also an on-going movement to encourage a further reduction in the use of disposable straws and other plastics in our daily life. Let’s do our part and say no to straws when we visit the catering outlets!


Trialing the new GreenCoin initiative

To further engage the University community to pursue a green lifestyle, the University launches the brand new ‘PolyU GreenCoin’ which encourages and rewards green actions. Steered by the Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) and supported by the Department of Computing (COMP) on mobile app development, this fun-filled and trendy campaign enables staff and students to earn Coins (virtual credits) with a dedicated mobile app when they carry their takeaway meals with their own reusable containers at selected student canteens or when they recycle a plastic beverage bottle using the Reverse Vending Machine (RVM). They can then convert their accumulated Coins to e-dining coupons, a free fitness room session at Block X Sports Centre or a utensil set.

Its trial run lasted from late November to mid-December 2018 and concluded successfully with the support from staff and student volunteers. You can read more about this campaign from the PolyU Green Coin website, and offer your support at its official launch in early 2019!


Wash-up sinks for lunchbox washing now available

The University arranged four engagement meetings in November 2017 for staff and students to collect views on encouraging a plastic-free dining behavior, with an eye on handling takeaway meals. Apart from offering greater financial incentive to encourage Bring Your Own (BYO), members of the University community also suggested the option of providing lunchbox washing facilities for users. Subsequently, the Facilities Management Office (FMO) carried out the first phase of wash-up sinks modification works and completed it before the 2018/19 Semester 1 commenced. Four wash-up sinks for the male and female toilets on G/F and 3/F of Block VA were modified to install grease traps and new water faucets. Detergents are now provided at these toilets and cleaning staff will take care of these washing basins. A few more wash-up sinks in some sit out areas on campus will come in the next phase. Next time when you need to wash you BYO lunchboxes, do look for this special wash-up sink in Block VA.


On-campus dining ware rental service starts

The solutions to plastic pollution start with our awareness and our commitment to SAY NO to disposables. To facilitate and enable more Departments and Offices with renewable dining ware options for their campus activities on Main Campus and SHR (Homantin), CSO and Catering Committee have steered a new initiative. A major university caterer has initiated the Reusable Dining Ware Rental Service which provides a convenient channel for colleagues to borrow reusable cups, stainless steel cutleries, bowls/plates, and coffee mugs.

Subject to a 5-days’ advance booking and the payment of a refundable deposit and rental charge which is dependent on the quantity required, staff members can rent from the VA Student Canteen operator the above- mentioned reusable dining ware. They can return the items directly to the VA Student Canteen for post-event cleansing. Interested colleagues can contact the service provider directly at 23418710 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


New arrangement to discourage the use of takeaway lunchboxes and cups

Starting from January 2019, members of the campus community can enjoy a Bring Your Own (BYO) discount of HK$1 if they bring their own food and beverage containers during all business hours at designated catering outlets. Meanwhile, HK$1 is charged for each takeaway lunchbox and cup at designated catering outlets during non-peak hours.

Designated Catering Outlets on Main Campus participating in this campaign include:

  • VA Student Canteen - G/F, Shaw Amenities Building
  • VA Staff Canteen - G/F, Shaw Amenities Building
  • Communal Student Canteen - 3/F, Communal Building
  • Z Canteen - 2/F, Block Z

Designated Catering Outlets at Halls participating in this campaign include:

  • Homantin Hall Canteen - G/F, Student Halls of Residence (Homantin)
  • Hung Hom Hall Canteen - 1/F, Student Halls of Residence (Hung Hom)

You can find more information and some common questions from PolyU Green Concepts website. You are also welcome to contact corresponding caterers for details.


Energy saving target sets for the new year

A new one-year university-wide campaign on energy saving launches in January 2019. It invites support from all staff and students and targets to reach the goal of an overall 3% in reducing energy consumption on the university-basis at the end of the year. The University also welcomes more innovative ideas and new suggestions from staff and students to reduce energy consumption on campus.

Being a member of the University community, we should all offer our hand and be more conscious of electricity use. We can practice energy saving behavior on campus by turning off the equipment and appliances when not in use instead of leaving them in standby mode. We can turn off the air-conditioning and lights when the room is vacant and change to more efficient appliances when it is time to replace old ones.


Campus Greenery - Crateva unilocularis (樹頭菜)

Crateva unilocularis, also named Spider Tree, withstands wind well and grows at any altitude. Flowers appear from February to April. During the flowering period, it has a wide-spreading crown and blooms abundance of flowers. Therefore, it is extensively planted as a roadside tree in Hong Kong.

Its flowers consist of 4 round petals, and they cluster at the ends of the branches. The flowers are white in the initial stage but turn yellow in the late stage. Its long and red filaments stretch out from the flowers which are similar to the spider legs, and this is also why it is named as ‘Spider Tree’.

The leaves of Spider Tree can strengthen the stomach. In Yunnan of China, people use its young leaves on treetop for preserved vegetables. On the other hand, the wood of Spider Tree can be used for musical instruments and woodcrafts while the peels can be used for dyeing.


Green IT tips - Mailing List Management (MLM) System makes email marketing easy

Traditional marketing practices tend to use a lot of paper. Information Technology Services Office’s (ITS) Mailing List Management (MLM) System is a handy platform for Departments and Offices to handle marketing tasks and capture attention in a green way. Staff members can use it to send broad-based email messages to staff, students and external recipients. It also offers much ease for the maintenance of various mailing lists, including the unsubscribe lists as required by the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (UEMO). It is the best alternative to paper-based promotion.

A revamped MLM System has been launched in 2018 Q4 to provide a more user-friendly interface with enhanced features and performance. New features of the MLM platform include:

  • Mobile responsive design
  • New drag-and-drop editor
  • New campaign types (university updates, events, questionnaires / surveys, etc.)
  • Easy import of recipient lists
  • Easy creation of opt-out link
  • Easy creation of social media icon and link
  • New SMS landing page
  • Enhanced approval mechanism
  • New subscription management function for opt-out/re-opt-in by recipients
  • Statistic reports on messages sent

For further information, please visit the MLM Webpage at


Introducing more energy saving facilities at Student Halls

The Hung Hom Student Halls of Residence plans to change the fluorescent tubes in the bed rooms from traditional ones (36W) to LED (14W) this summer. In addition, there are plans to replace the current traditional fluorescent tubes (18W) in the staircases with LED tubes with motion sensor inside (7W when motion is detected and 2.5W if not) when they burn out. LEDs contain no harmful mercury and use less energy to produce the same light output. This lighting arrangement will help reduce negative environmental impacts and offer significant energy saving.



3. Stakeholder Engagement

Workshop on constructing a healthy workplace

How can we build a healthy work environment with effective energy management measures? A workshop on these topics was held in November 2018 under the Green PolyU Awards – Green Office programme Phase 3. The workshop speaker invited all attending participants to consider performing a carbon audit to measure and record the sources of energy usage and carbon emissions in the workplace. The audit result will help in creating an energy efficient office. Also, the speaker examined how a desirable physical work environment can be achieved by maintaining a healthy workplace, and cast light on office safety and handling of work stress. Participants also had the opportunity to make their unique glass bottle garden and bring a little greenery into their offices as well as a positive change in the psychosocial working environment.


Staging the Collage Again Material Exhibition

To many people, waste is something no longer wanted and useless. But in the eyes of PolyU’s students and representatives from the Japanese brand poRiff, waste is something precious and can be turned into new products with impressive values and functions. The School of Design and poRiff co-presented the ‘Collage Again Material Exhibition’ in October 2018 and fully demonstrated how to handle waste in a better way. Products from poRiff and works of students from the School of Design and Institute of Fashion and Clothing were featured to inspire ideas on re-valuing and re-purposing waste instead of discarding it. These exhibits raised public awareness on used plastic bag recycling.


Sustainable Consumption of Biological Resources Exhibition runs on campus

The roving exhibition ‘Sustainable Consumption of Biological Resources’ is jointly organized by the Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) to educate the public to have good use of biological resources. PolyU was one of the partnering organizations to support this good cause and featured this exhibition between 30 November to 4 December 2018 on campus at the FJ Covered Podium Wing.

Trendy picture cards designed by the local artist So Real Real were mounted on upcycled materials to illustrate various sustainable tips and practices in our daily lives. Topics such as consuming fish with AFCD certification and procurement of sustainable resources were explored in a funny and lively way to impress the University community about making wise choices and consuming sustainable biological resources. 


PolyU encourages sustainability-conscious food consumption

PolyU has been promoting sustainability-conscious food consumption practices by announcing our Position on Sustainability-conscious Food Consumption in Official Entertainment in June 2017. Stepping up with more efforts towards this subject, the University further commits to support sustainable seafood and pledged to support WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Week in November 2018. PolyU will organize at least one institutional reception by the end of 2019 in which all the seafood dishes on the menu will be sustainable as per WWF Seafood Guide. It will also widely promote this message to its staff and students and call upon everyone to join and bring positive change to our oceans together.


Launches the University Social Responsibility Month

On 19 October 2018, a launch ceremony was held on campus to kick-start the University Social Responsibility (USR) Month followed by a series of fair-trade coffee workshops to spread the USR idea. A project showcase was also set up to present USR student engagement projects, including projects by the Global Youth Leadership and the Service-Learning Institute, Project Uganda (the USR network's first student-led project), the Good Seed projects and the Vision of Love Mobile Eye Care project.


PolyU Bring Your Own Bottle Day

A group of students taking the Service-Learning subject ‘Building Green Communities with Environmental NGOs’ organized the ‘PolyU Bring Your Own Bottle Day’ on 16 November 2018. Supported by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, these students arranged activities on campus to boost awareness of the University community on reducing reliance on disposables. Observations, surveys and interviews were conducted to assess and promote the bring your own bottle habit. Their project advocated the positive message on environmental education and invited like-minded people to join them and taking up the BYO habit.


Public lecture examines possibilities towards a weather and climate resilient world

On 4 October 2018, PolyU and the LUI Che Woo Prize co-hosted the Welfare Betterment Prize Laureate Public Lecture entitled "Towards a Weather and Climate Resilient World" on campus. Representing the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which is the winner of the 2018 Welfare Betterment Prize, Prof. Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General shared the impact of the climate change to around 300 guests. He also discussed the importance of strengthening early warning systems and creating user-friendly climate services, in order to foster a collaborative network of resilience against natural disaster-related loss of life and economic damage. More about this lecture can be read from the PolyU Media Releases.


University Social Responsibility Summit 2018

PolyU joined the University of Haifa and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to co-host the University Social Responsibility (USR) Summit 2018 in early December 2018 in Haifa, Israel. It gathered over 100 senior government officials, academics, community leaders and students of higher education institutions from various countries. The three-day event consisted of different plenary and parallel sessions around the theme of ‘Universities' Social Responsibility in Shaping a Future of Critical Hope’, as well as study tours in both the Haifa region and Jerusalem. This Summit is a biennial flagship event of PolyU’s University Social Responsibility Network (USRN), which has emerged as a worldwide network to promote social responsibility amongst global universities. More about this Summit can be read from the PolyU Media Releases.


Forum addresses age-friendly city space

PolyU’s Institute of Active Ageing held a public forum under the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project on Innovative Use of Open Space and Inclusive Built Environment on 4 December 2018 with the aim to explore the challenges and opportunities of enhancing the age-friendliness of outdoor space and building development in Hong Kong,

At the public forum, keynote speakers shared their insights in tackling the challenges of ageing of population and buildings, applying smart city technologies and planning for outdoor spaces and buildings to cope with the ageing population. Following the keynote speeches, in a panel discussion, representatives from government, professionals from medical, architectural, academic and social welfare sectors, together with representatives of senior citizens shared with over 400 forum participants about the ways of making public space and built environment more socially inclusive and age-friendly.


Interhall Energy Saving Challenge

The Homantin Student Halls of Residence started the Interhall Energy Saving Challenge in November 2018 and will last till January 2019. The electricity consumption of each hall is monitored and reported weekly to reflect their current electricity consumption behavior and adjust accordingly based on the results. Ways to conserve electricity are also promoted to hall residents. Hall residents are happy to report success as the average energy used per person recorded in week 8 was around 22.5 kWh, which was a significant decrease from that of 31.4 kWh in Week 1!


Students enjoying urban farming

The Residential Education (ResEd) team organized an Urban Farming Workshop in September 2018 and invited an experienced instructor to come and teach students about the principles of urban farming and the importance of green living. Students learned how to plant vegetables in planting beds in both Hung Hom and Homantin Halls and enjoyed this hands-on workshop will other residents, tutors, Wardens, and the ResEd staff. Students worked together to water and took great care of the plants. They harvested the vegetables in time for a Green Cooking Workshop in November 2018 and learned how to make healthy vegetable dishes. These were great lessons for the students in green living and healthy eating habits!



4. Upcoming Activities

Promoting the culture of save and share

With data from FOOD-CO, some 3,382 tonnes of food waste is being landfilled every day, and it is undeniably a waste of precious resources. To raise awareness of food resources and wastage, the Campus Sustainability Office will organize a food drive in mid-February, inviting for food donation from staff and students. New, well-packed and unexpired items are all welcome. All collected food will be donated to FOOD-CO and will be shared with the people in need. If you are one among those who care about reducing food waste and creating a better living environment, do take action and offer your support to this event!


Getting ready for the annual epic campus sustainability event

PolyU’s annual signature sustainability event will be back in March 2019! The PolyU Campus Sustainability Weeks will be held from 4 to 15 March 2019, featuring a series of workshops and sharing sessions around the theme of leading a sustainable lifestyle. The event will also include some campus-wide campaigns and games to engage the University community in different aspects of green living, such as Bring Your Own (BYO) and tree appreciation on campus in an exciting way. Stay tuned and be part of it!



5. In Pursuit of Excellence

Donation received from alumnus to support Service-Learning projects

PolyU expressed its gratitude to Outstanding Alumnus Ir Dr Wong Tit-shing, Chairman of Jetta Company Limited for his generous donation to support the student development of the University. Ir Dr Wong donated HK$2 million donation to PolyU, and the donation will be used to support Service-Learning projects in Rwanda and to set up Wong Tit-shing Student Exchange Scholarship to nurture students' sense of social responsibility and to broaden their global outlook.

More details can be read from PolyU’s Campus Report.


Recognition in promoting occupational safety and health

PolyU received Safety Performance Award (other industries category) and Safety Promotion Award (Bronze) at the 17th Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Award Presentation Ceremony in recognition in its efforts in raising employees’ awareness and fostering a workplace safety culture. This is the third consecutive year the University was honored. The University endeavors to provide a healthy and safe environment for all staff and students, and has been promoting health and safety awareness through its annual promotional campaign ‘Safety Week’ from 13 to 23 November.

More information can be read from PolyU Health & Safety Newsletter.



6. Green News Around Us

HKSCC dialogue with EPD on MSW Charging Scheme

The HKSAR Government has long been advocating a quantity-based waste charging scheme which aims to create financial incentives to drive behavioral changes in waste generation and hence reduce overall waste disposal, following similar practices in countries like South Korea and Taiwan. After years of consultation and debates, the Government is looking forward to implementing the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Charging Scheme as early as in end-2020.

Upon the invitation from the Hong Kong Sustainable Campus Consortium (HKSCC) formed by the representatives from the eight local universities, officials from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) paid a visit to the HKSCC Task Force on 22 November 2018. They briefed the Task Force members on the latest development of the proposed MSW charging scheme, its implementation details, and other waste reduction related educational, community out-reaching programs and some pilot schemes. They had a very fruitful discussion and exchanged views on different proposed schemes and strategies. More waste reduction related collaborations are expected between the universities and EPD.


Paper recycling plant to be built

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) awarded a contractor on 7 December 2018 to develop a local waste paper recycling and manufacturing plant in the EcoPark. It will commence design and construction in 2019 and is expected to be put into operation in 2023. It will be the first one established in Hong Kong since the closure of the local paper mills a decade ago and is expected to be capable of processing 300,000 tonnes of local waste paper a year.

The plant will turn locally collected waste paper into high-strength corrugated paper, semi-dry pulp and other materials that will be sold locally and outside the city.

The EPD will continue its efforts in the promotion and education of clean recycling, and launch suitable programmes to facilitate the local industry to raise the quality of recovered waste paper, enhance its competitiveness and open up more diverse outlets.


Biodiversity festival opens from Oct to Dec

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department organized the Hong Kong Biodiversity Festival 2018 to promote the rich biodiversity of Hong Kong. It offered more than 100 fun-filled activities from October to December 2018 under the theme ‘City within Nature’. The Festival helped to enhance public awareness of local biodiversity and encouraged the general public to appreciate the natural ecology in urban areas. Guided eco-tours were arranged to enable participants to appreciate how various types of urban premises and projects integrate with the nature seamlessly.


Local drinks manufacturers join forces with green groups to support recycling

Some local charities and environmental groups, drink producers, bottlers, recyclers, and retailers, agreed to join hands to raise the recovery rate of single-use bottles and containers in the city. Together they formed a new coalition named the Single-use Beverage Packaging Working Group and pledged to support this initiative with new strategies and measures.

Their Strategies include levying beverage producers and importers to fund a ‘cash on return’ scheme for plastic bottles and reducing single-use packaging for drinks by installing more water dispensers around town. Drink producers are requested to review packaging standards and use materials or designs that can facilitate easier recovery or recycling.