Producer Responsibility Schemes

by John Herbert

Efforts to hold producers responsible for plastic containers overlooks the big picture, and the use of plastic in the whole supply chain.

Focusing on the end product, the plastic bottle waste avoids the vast quantities of waste used in the supply chain.

For distribution plastic bottles are bundled in a package, containing say 12 bottes, and then wrapped in plastic. These packages are bundled and distributed on shipping pallets, and these pallets are also typically wrapped in plastic. And here in Hong Kong, the trolley’s used to deliver goods to the supermarkets are also wrapped in plastic.

Placing the focus and responsibility back on the producer for containers must be welcome, but don’t think that will solve plastic pollution, it is one part of the overall whole picture.

A recent video published by the BBC demonstrated that the innocent tea bag used by some companies also use plastic! Here is a link to the video:

#plasticwaste #pollution #oceanpollution #plasticpollution #microplastic #hongkong

Same Advice Same Result

by John Herbert

Go ahead, keep issuing the exact same advice daily.

Although the number of COVID infections involving building drainage systems is scary, and is increasing day by day.

Yet, the exact same advice is issued in the press release every day, that does not make any sense. Is it an inter-department issue, whose responsibility?

It is exactly same text in the 100’s of Press Releases before it. Go figure.

click here for a list of sick buildings

Avoiding Group Think

You might be familiar with the term Group Think, created because groups often return the same decision, the brief video explains how people make choices.

The nine people in the group each pick option C, what do you pick?

It is based on fascinating research from 1950’s by Asch, who created the Asch conformity experiments.

Solomon Asch found that it is difficult for the individual not to follow the opinion of the group. So the next time you find yourself in group, remember to escape group think.

Sick Buildings means….

COVID19 has exposed another weakness, its buildings! Several buildings have INTERNAL path for infection of the buildings residents.

COVID19 cases associated with Richland Gardens Block 6

Since February 2020 COVID19 infection has been found to be spreading within buildings, to apartments on different floors of the same building. Frankly, it has reached epidemic proportions in the public housing sector, every CHP press conference implicates more and more buildings. tracking sick building link

More Microplastic

by John Herbert

The pollution of the environment continues, microplastics have been found in the ocean, in the fish we eat, in our cities we live, in the mountains, in the air we breathe, and at the end of 2020 the latest discovery with microplastic in the placenta of humans. The sample size is tiny, but it is positive evidence, here is the link to the study:

#pollution #ocean #microplastic #microplastics #plasticpollution

16 yr olds don’t believe adults can handle environmental issues

website screenshot BBC Newsround

The BBC Newsround programme conducted a survey of 16 year olds was an eye opener, the survey found 4 out of 5 were concerned with climate change issues (see graphic below), 1 in 5 reported bad dreams, and critically, they don’t trust their parents handling environmental issues.

CREDIT BBC newsround (

Interestingly, it reminds me of the SCMP survey in Hong Kong, 82% of respondents don’t believe corporate sustainability slogans (i.e. greenwashing). We should not be surprized, the Hong Kong carbon repository ( only has data reported for about 80 out of 2,300 listed companies, fewer still have an updated entry (accessed 29-11-2020). So why are listed companies shy and hiding their GHG emissions?

#climatechange #environmental

HP ProBook 440 G7 Laptop BIOS and Other Upgrades Nov. 2020 – Don’t

DONT upgrade.

I made a big mistake, on 5-Nov. 2020 HP send notice for upgrading the HP software on my HP ProBook 440 G7 laptop. I hesitated, then relented, and hit install all in HP software dialog. This is not a windows 10 upgrade its HP own upgrade.

Now my machine is useless, it takes nearly an hour to start, I can’t see any online fix. just to add icing on the cake, the HP software that actually manages updating, well that does not run anymore either. It is complete joke.

Possible Cladding Fire South Korea

by John Herbert

9 Oct. 2020 == the BBC news is reporting a dangerous high rise building fire in the city of Ulsan, South Korea.

Judging from the limited coverage, from the very rapid exterior flame spread it appears to be another cladding fire. Follow BBC for latest news:

Above image credit ZHANIYA/@ZHANY.YO

Stupid WordPress doesn’t embed twitter and other content :(


more video:

more videos:


CEO’s Kill Climate Change

Every day we bombarded with images of government leaders and C suite executives swanning around the globe attending events, conferences, summits, Davos, and the like, demonstrating that the idea of trying to lower carbon emissions is just an idea for the great unwashed, they must have a shelf granted exemption right?

Sustainability strategists happily jet setting across the planet to tackle climate change, is not their problem, it is our problem, the masses need to saving the planet.

Look at this great piece on (link) tracking helicopter flights into and out of Davos during the world economic forum.


While surveys indicate people want to act or are willing to act more sustainability, the man on the street is busying learning visually.

When the boss leaves the lights on, he is signaling to everyone else, it is perfectly fine to leave the lights on and waste energy, for the masses it is easier to follow the norm rather than try to break the rule. If you ask why, people are unaware, they follow their intuition but given time some rational explanations emerge.

I see it every day, you probably see it too, more and more examples, of government officials and C suite executives chauffeured and helicoptered around Davos at great environmental cost.

We see groups and leaders ignoring sustainability choosing single-use plastic water bottles at “Green” conferences, people will say they want to act sustainably but don’t, they don’t because we can all see the real message and we learn from the C suite world examples.

Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do


Sha Tin COVID19 cluster

CREDIT: RTHK June 2020

The HK government press release on 15 May 2020 announced public housing will be inspected source:


But it is too late, on 4 June 2020 a cluster of COVID19 cases has occurred, centered around the public housing Luk Chuen House, Lek Yuen Estate, Sha Tin estate Source:

It should not be forgotten that the SARS outbreak in 2003 and COVID19 at Hong Mei House, Cheung Hong Estate, Tsing Yi, were connected with spreading disease through damaged drainage vent pipework.


Blaze guts UAE high-rise

CREDIT: Khaleej Times 6 May 2020

The Khaleej Times is covering the blaze of the 49 story Abbco Tower in Sharjah, UAE, it comprises 36 levels of residential accommodation and 20 levels of parking, the Khaleej Times newspaper reports. Here is the link:

On that webpage, video recorded during the night of fire shows burning debris showered on the streets below, a recognizable pattern of destruction. Thankfully, no fatalities reported.

Once again, the impossible has occurred, the building fire was not contained within one fire compartment, the whole tower was gutted in less than three (3) hours.

From the video limited coverage, it appears to be another combustible cladding fire, the video shows the initial fire spread with defined vertical progression, before expanding laterally fire capturing the floor. Check out this video:

capture from @Gr_Yassine twitter video

The fire spread is vertical, straight up the tower, indicating propagation of the fire up the cladding.

More about high rise fires:


High Rise Death Traps

It is a scary time in Hong Kong, covid19 has closed schools, so all the kids at home studying on Zoom, and an increasing number of people are also working at home to maintain social distancing. But the majority are living in high rise buildings, most without any sprinklers, many older buildings are just high rise death traps.

Government’s across the planet have amazing hindsight, AFTER a major disaster has occurred, after lives have been lost, then months of wrangling ensure to update the building codes or governing regulations, that price is too high in my view.

Well, it seems I have to wait, I have to wait for the news media to report a disastrous number of unnecessary deaths before Governmental hindsight kicks into action.

April 2020 – broken fire escape fire/smoke door

In the United Kingdom, you might have heard about the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, more than 70 people tragically died, and they had better fire doors than the door in photo recorded in April 2020.

How does this happen is a developed economy, it is a result of Hong Kong’s laissez-faire mantra, passing every possible responsibility to anyone except government, individuals, or private companies, with little, if any oversight.

For building fire safety that means the owner (or hired corporation) is wholly responsible for compliance with the regulations covering fire safety, since nobody checks residential buildings, there is no incentive to comply.

Org Chart

Passive fire safety measures (materials and fire escape routes) are governed by the HKSAR Development Bureau, and its subordinate Building Department (BD), essentially they cover the construction code and regulations, and they conduct site checks before allowing a new building to open.

Active fire safety measures (fire alarms, hose reels, sprinklers, etc) are governed by the HKSAR Security Bureau, and its subordinate Fire Services Department (FSD), essentially they cover code and regulations for the active systems, they conduct site checks before opening a new building, reporting the result to BD.

Why Residential Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers buy time, precious time. In the absence of any immediate occupants to raise the fire alarm, modern sprinklers when activated by fire automatically sound the fire alarm, but more importantly, they immediately put water on the fire.

That immediate water slows the progress allowing time for people to escape, it helps control the smoke and while the water is full, keeps putting water on the fire while the fire bridge are travelling to the site. Often a fire sprinkler system can prevent a fire from becoming a disaster while waiting for the firefighters to tackle the blaze.


Body Shop Refils

The Body Shop (in the UK) originally started the idea for a store offering refills for customers’ containers. For example, if you need moisture, you take empty bottle/containers to Body Shop they refill it, avoiding excessive packaging, and the resulting negative impacts on the environmental.

If the Government had tightly regulated waste, more businesses would have embraced that model, and I am willing to bet that the Plastic Sea films and videos wouldn’t exist today. Alas its too late now.

Then The Body Shop dropped the whole eco-friendly model, it changed to selling products in single-use plastic containers, the same as every other store.

So what is the point, you’re thinking, it seems that the refillable container concept is making a comeback. We even have an ecostore in Hong Kong with refill station!

credit: ecostore facebook page

I also read that a new type of store opened in Birmingham (UK), the Cleankilo, it is taking the concept farther than cosmetics, it is an entire supermarket, with a range of products following the refillable concept, it is worth visiting their website

I have said it a million times, and it bears repeating Prevention is better than the cure.

Preventing companies from creating plastic waste, and preventing consumers (that’s you and me) from dumping plastic waste avoids bits of plastic in the ocean and in fish and chips supper will be plastic-free too.

It is far cheaper to prevent pollution than paying the environmental and social costs for cleaning up afterward.

Chinese University & Plastic Water Bottles

Watsons Single Use Plastic Water Bottles – Chinese University – 10-10-2019 -Credit RTHK

Using single-use plastic water bottles, on the stage, visually demonstrates Hong Kong’s Chinese Universities’ environmental policy or lack thereof.

Leaving cash on the energy efficiency table

Hong Kong Electric (HEC) and China Light & Power (CLP) will provide up to 50% of project cost for replacing communal services in buildings with energy efficient plant and equipment.

Yes, that’s right, they are willing to fund Capital investment in Hong Kong buildings, each fund is capped, depending on the exact project details.

These funds can be used to replace or upgrade the existing lifts, escalators, water pumps, air conditioning, and lighting in the common areas of residential and commercial buildings.

It is a no brainer, a part of the capital cost is provided as a rebate to the building owner/management after the work is completed, then tenants enjoy a capital cost savings and lower energy bills going forward. You know that small business energy supply usave to create a more environment friendly workplace.

The scheme documentation is somewhat obtuse (HEC smart power fund) and (CLP Eco building fund) require the building owner/management to hire Registered Energy Assessor (REA) to submit the energy saving calculations for “committee” review, but there is no obvious energy-saving target, would 2% PA energy-saving qualify or do they require 10% energy saving? its unclear. In addition, the HEC website also offers opportunities to obtain a loan too!

CLP Eco building fund

Greening Existing Buildings

Improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock is a priority, excluding government buildings, there are approx. 42,000 buildings in Hong Kong that desperately need energy efficiency improvement.

These funds subsidise part of the capital cost (CapEx) and simultaneously lowering the long term energy bills and lower operating expenses (OPex) for tenant/owner of the building.

These funds do not subsidise the whole capital cost, only a part of it, but that’s better than no subsidy.

Protection for these newer forms of energy is essential. Let’s look at this for further details.

sponsored by :

Energy and PPT 2019

the latest version of the EMSD building energy code BEC 2018 came into effect in May 2019 with margin improvements over the 2015 version, here is a summary comparison

Yes, it does have tougher criteria but at the end of the day it’s still just a list of technical requirements, if you own the best chiller in the world, but operate it badly, it will still comply with the building energy code. read my latest energy audit PPT

sponsored by KCE

Lacking Regulation

The above photo shows a Hong Kong shopping mall on 7 July 2019 with a large plastic bottle recycling vending machine on the right and smaller containers for collection and recycling on the left.

But compare that with Shanghai, China, where a compulsory separation of waste law commenced on 1 July 2019, essentially requiring residents to separate all domestic waste, with fines for non-compliance [SCMP report]. At least initially it’s apparent that this new regulation will be rigidly enforced, and that could be just enough for behavior change and changing habits.

Although it does mean, that once again, Hong Kong finds itself lagging behind.

sponsored by sustainable design consultant