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Environmental policy and objectives

In support of the Government's commitment to setting a good example in environmental protection, the Department has been implementing the Green Manager Scheme since November 1993 to enhance green housekeeping measures in the workplace.

In June 1996, the Department issued a policy statement on environmental protection and designated a Departmental Green Manager to promote corporate green culture within the department, remind staff of the department's environmental policy, enhance their awareness in green housekeeping practices, inspire their participation in green management programmes, initiate action plans where appropriate in supporting the Government's long-term strategy on environmental protection, and monitor the implementation of various green measures. Since 1998, the Department has incorporated major green management initiatives and performance into its annual departmental reports.

Staff participation

To enable the effective implementation of various green measures, staff's support and vigorous participation are of particular importance. In this regard, the Department encourages staff to give suggestions on new initiatives of green management through the Staff Suggestion Scheme. Over the years, many practicable green proposals put forth by staff have been adopted.

Since 2005, individual Services of the Department have assigned energy wardens to monitor energy consumption in workplace and the implementation of various green housekeeping measures in offices and clinics/units under their purview.

Since end-2012, as an additional measure to further enhance green management, Services of the Department have designated a Service Green Manager to assist in coordinating the green practices and waste avoidance measures within the Service. Besides, a senior officer in each clinic/unit has been assigned as the Venue Green Manager to promote green management measures within the clinic/unit. In addition, "Green Corners" on notice boards and Green Action Teams in clinics/units have been set up to promote green office culture.

Waste management

The Department has been participating in the Waste Separation and Recycling Campaign since 2002. Waste separation bins are placed in clinics and office floors of the Department to enable separate collection of waste paper, aluminium cans and plastic bottles by waste collectors for recycling. In 2015-16, a total of 9 563 kg of waste paper was collected for recycling. In addition, empty toner cartridges of colour printers and laser printers have also been collected for recycling.

The Department follows the guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Department in segregation, packaging, labelling and storage of clinical wastes and chemical wastes. Clinical wastes, chemical wastes and domestic wastes generated from clinics and laboratories are segregated for disposal. Clinical wastes such as sharps boxes and used dressings are placed in red plastic waste bags, properly labelled, securely fastened and temporarily stored in the designated area before collection by clinical waste collectors for disposal. The designated area for clinical waste storage is provided with visibly clear warning sign, protected from water and rain, always kept clean and dry, and secure from unauthorised persons.

To comply with the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation, chemical wastes generated from clinics and laboratories are segregated from clinical wastes and domestic wastes, temporarily stored in a designated area which is only accessible by relevant staff and collected by the licensed waste collectors for disposal.

Economical use of paper

The Department has adopted the following housekeeping measures to economise the use of paper:

  • print/photocopy on both sides of clean paper;
  • reuse envelopes and file jackets;
  • avoid using fax leader page as far as possible;
  • roll out e-Leave system to replace printed leave application forms;
  • make use of electronic means in disseminating health messages such as uploading publications onto departmental website to keep printed publications to the minimum;
  • maximise the use of Internet and electronic mail facilities for circulation of circulars and guidelines, clinic timetable, telephone directory, etc. to reduce paper consumption;
  • send greeting cards in festive seasons by electronic means; and
  • make available e-forms for various licensing applications to the public on the government's official website.

Green purchase

The Department has implemented the following green procurement initiatives to support the use of environmentally friendly products:

  • use recycled paper;
  • use plain paper fax machines instead of thermo fax machines so that making a second copy of the thermo fax paper for filing purpose is not required;
  • use energy efficient computer equipment, electrical appliances and office equipment;
  • use clinical waste bags and sharps boxes which are not made from polyvinylchloride materials and are suitable for incineration;
  • use plastic bags which are made of recycled material;
  • incorporate the use of degradable/recycled materials into the tender specifications for arranging outsourced cleansing service;
  • use mercury-free blood pressure monitors and thermometers;
  • use liquid crystal display monitors to replace old cathode ray tube monitors; and
  • use recycled and reusable stationery and other office supplies such as refillable ballpoint pens, reusable toners and printer cartridges.

Energy conservation

The Department has adopted the following energy saving measures:

  • de-lamp lights to the minimum required for illumination and switch off lights and non-essential electrical appliances while not in use;
  • modify group lighting switches to individual switches;
  • install air curtains at clinic entrances to prevent infiltration of untreated air from outside;
  • replace aged chillers with energy efficient chillers of central air-conditioning system;
  • replace magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts and change T8 fluorescent tubes to the more efficient T5 fluorescent tubes;
  • replace conventional illumination signs of emergency exit in clinics and offices with light-emitting diode signs; and
  • maintain indoor temperature at 25.5°C during summer months for general offices and public areas as far as possible.

In 2015-16, the Department has conducted energy audit for five clinic buildings of high energy consumption. The Department will continue to work closely with Electrical and Mechanical Services Department in implementing practical and effective electricity saving projects.

Air quality improvement

Being the Government's health adviser, the Department has been taking a leading role in the smoke-free workplace policy since 1982. This policy has been applied to all institutions of the Department since 1996.

From both the green management and the infection control aspects, adequate fresh air ventilation in clinics and health centres is important for protecting the health of staff and clients. Since 1999, indoor air quality tests and cleaning of air ducts of air-conditioning systems in clinics and offices have been conducted by Electrical and Mechanical Services Department periodically to enhance the operational efficiency of air-conditioning systems and ensure adequate fresh air ventilation. In support of the Government's Indoor Air Quality Certification Scheme, four office premises which meet the participating criteria have been arranged to join the Scheme in 2015. All the participating office premises have attained "Good Class" certification.

To support reducing air pollution caused by exhaust emissions of vehicles, the Department has taken the following measures:

  • encourage staff to make use of public transport while performing outdoor duties;
  • instruct all drivers in the Department to switch off their car engines while waiting; and
  • arrange proper vehicle maintenance and timely replacement of catalytic converters for departmental vehicles.

Smoking and tobacco control

The reduction of smoking prevalence and hence improvement in the air quality and public health is aimed to be achieved by discouraging smoking, educating the public, particularly the young, on the health risks involved, containing proliferation of tobacco use and protecting the public from passive smoking to the maximum possible extent. Since 1 January 2007, the statutory smoking ban has been expanded to cover schools, hospitals, all public indoor areas such as restaurants, workplaces and some outdoor areas including beaches and parks. Starting from 1 July 2009, the smoking ban was extended to all bars, clubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, massage parlours, and mahjong and tin-kau parlours. A fixed penalty system for smoking offences commenced operation on 1 September 2009 to impose a fixed penalty of HK$1,500 for smoking or carrying a lighted cigarette or pipe in statutory no smoking areas or transport carriers.

Hong Kong's smoking prevalence is among the lowest in the world. According to the Thematic Household Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department, the overall prevalence of smokers in Hong Kong has been on a decreasing trend over the past three decades from 23.3% in early 1980s to 10.5% in 2015. This continuous drop in the percentage is a good indication of the effectiveness of the comprehensive tobacco control measures adopted by the whole society, including legislation, taxation, law enforcement, health promotion and provision of smoking cessation services.

  Last Revision Date : 20 Feb 2017