Dutch Mission in Hong Kong and Shenzhen

September 28, 2023

ReThink HK, Hong Kong’s foremost sustainable business event tailored for corporate executives and sustainability experts, took place on 14 and 15 September 2023.

The Netherlands, the official partner country for Rethink 2023, explores deeper collaborative possibilities and draws inspiration from circularity. Freek van Eijk, the director of Holland Circular Hotspot, actively engaged with key collaborators and Dutch enterprises in Hong Kong, accompanied by Diana Wong, the Under Secretary for the Environment and Ecology Bureau. This partnership promises exciting prospects for sustainability-driven endeavours.


Hong Kong Hong sets sights on sustainability and Circular Economy transformation

Hong Kong, a global city known for its efficient public transport and shared spaces, is gearing up for a sustainable makeover with a focus on resource management and waste reduction. The city’s ambitious climate goals have led to plans to bolster waste management regulations, with a particular emphasis on addressing the issue of single-use plastics.

Approximately 21% of Hong Kong’s municipal solid waste is comprised of plastics, prompting a concerted effort to shift towards innovative solutions that prioritize design, recycling, and reusability. While the city has made strides in certain areas of sustainability, circular awareness remains relatively low, often involving rebranding waste as a resource without implementing systemic changes in waste management practices.

Hong Kong’s sustainability vision presents promising opportunities in several domains, including climate solutions such as heating, cooling, renewable energy, and energy conservation. Initiatives like material passports, building-as-a-service concepts, and the adoption of innovative circular and biobased materials are on the horizon. Realizing these objectives will necessitate collaboration among architects, material suppliers, financiers, tenants, developers, facility managers, and waste managers, heralding a new era of sustainable progress for the vibrant city.

Hong Kong ReThink Conference 

The 4th edition of the Hong Kong Rethink Conference was held on the 14th and 15th of September in Wanchai, Hong Kong. This annual event is co-organised by the Business Environment Council (BEC). It provides insight and inspiration for driving sustainable development across globally recognised risk and opportunity topics from a Hong Kong context.

This year’s conference hosted over 6,000 visitors and provided a key opportunity to foster networks and collaborations with various actors such as governmental officials, businesses, and the representatives of HK’s younger generations

HCH  director Freek van Eijk participated in various events, including panel discussions and workshops mainly focusing on single-use plastics.

While circular business models are gaining traction for their potential to maximise resource reuse and reduce waste, a crucial concern looms in addressing consumption levels. A concerted effort to curb current consumption habits, the benefits of circular economy practices may be sufficient to mitigate environmental harm.

Freek van Eijk teamed up in a panel discussion on ‘Circular transition: ReThinking waste as a resource’ with Kenneth Cheng, Environmental Protection Department, Wander Meijer, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, and Laurent Pelletier, CEO Veolia HK. The main discussion explored a range of practical strategies designed to manage waste and promote recycling initiatives within communities.

Workshop on Single-Use Plastics in Hong Kong

The Consulate of the Netherlands in Hong Kong and HCH teamed up with Merlin Lao and his team at the Business Environment Council (BEC) of Hong Kong (BEC) to organise a workshop on single-use plastics (SUP) in Hong Kong.

The event featured a SUP quiz, insights on upcoming regulations by SWIRE Coca-Cola, and an introduction to CIRCO’s design lessons for SUP.

By working alongside a local partner, the intention is to introduce CIRCO’s ‘train the trainer program’ and disseminate design lessons among entrepreneurs. Likewise, during the workshop, participants worked on innovative alternatives for plastic disposable items such as disposable cups, cutlery, food trays and straws.

This collaborative effort reflects Hong Kong’s commitment to combat plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices.

To close off the Rethink event, HCH participated in a lively plenary EU-organized debate where three younger generations representatives asked questions to today’s circular leaders.

The theme was: “Sustainable Supply-chains: Do we do enough for Climate Change?” and focused on circular economy leadership and the role of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong and Dutch collaborators foster sustainable exchange and knowledge sharing

During the visit, Freek van Eijk closely interacted with key public and private stakeholders, emphasizing collaboration and knowledge exchange.

A notable luncheon session was held with Diana Wong, the Under Secretary for the Environment and Ecology Bureau, and her team in the presence of prominent Dutch companies in Hong Kong, including Action, Arcadis, Boskalis, Friesland Campina, ING, Philips, and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. This gathering facilitated dynamic and constructive dialogues between public and private actors, focusing on sustainable initiatives and collaborative opportunities. Continuing his journey, van Eijk participated in a knowledge exchange session with experts in the field, including Prof Benjamin Steuer from HKUST, Lawrence Iu, Executive Director of Civic Exchange, and Edwin Lau, Founder of NGO Green Earth.

Discussions encompassed the critical issue of plastics and litter in the region, delving into potential solutions and how Hong Kong could optimise sustainability within logistics and financial services. Moreover, a master class on circular economy was conducted in partnership with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, further promoting sustainable practices and encouraging a transition towards a circular and eco-friendly business environment.

For more information on the master class on circular economy, visit the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Read more: www.dutchchamber.hk

Dutch Consul Arjen van den Berg was watching HCH’s 3-D video on plastics.

Sino-Dutch circular fashion conference

The journey didn’t end in Hong Kong; Holland Circular Hotspot (HCH) continued its mission to foster sustainable practices by participating in the Sino-Dutch Circular Fashion Conference held in Shenzhen. This event, coinciding with Shenzhen Fashion Week, provided a platform for cross-border collaboration and knowledge sharing in sustainable fashion.

Shenzhen, often referred to as China’s Silicon Valley, is a city that embraces a zero-waste ambition and is renowned for its thriving fashion and electronics industries. The conference welcomed Dutch experts who shared insights into their innovative approaches, sparking discussions aimed at accelerating the transition within the fashion industry.

Shenzhen, keenly observing the evolving dynamics of the fashion sector both domestically and internationally, expressed a strong interest in learning from Dutch experiences and expertise. At the event, Leontine Wagenaar, Senior Fashion Strategist and Creative Consultant at Modint and Stijntje Jaspers, provided a comprehensive overview of the Dutch approach, the vibrant Dutch ecosystem, and noteworthy innovations in the field. The visit to Hong Kong shed light on areas where Dutch-Sino collaboration could flourish in the realms of circular economy, waste management, and sustainable urbanization. As the floodwaters receded and discussions deepened, it became evident that HK’s pursuit of a circular and sustainable future transcended regional boundaries, presenting a global opportunity for positive change.