By Angelica Klein 

The Sustainability Series showcased four incredible speakers: Betty Ng founder of the international architecture office Collective, Ellie Tang Head of Sustainability at New World Development and K11, Thomas Gomersall, Head of Ecology and Conservation for Cacao and our very own Heidi Spurrell CEO of Food Made Good HK. This was the first of many events as a part of the Sustainability Series hosted by the American Club Foundation and the American Club.

The evening started off with some delicious “guilt-free” chocolate courtesy of Cacao which paired nicely with some orange infused bourbon whiskey. In the spirit of low waste, The American Club saved up oranges peels that would have been food waste and infused them into the alcohol and created a sustainable beverage. Once everyone helped themselves to their guilt-free treat we began the sustainability discussions. 

Source: Food Made Good HK

Being a diverse panel provided a perfect mix of insights from all industries, with each panelist discussing how they work towards putting sustainability at the forefront of their business. Hearing first from Ellie Tang and her explanation of how New World Development is addressing sustainability by making sure to exclusively use science based targets when planning their company sustainability vision. Through sharing their targets and values with different stakeholders New World Development are able to drive their sustainability mission forward and increase excitement in these new plans. Heidi Spurrell shared the Food Made Good vision and wider programme details with the audience that night, especially focusing on how sustainability is a pre-competitive space. This means everyone is working towards the same solution so it’s better to work together in partnership whether that is reducing our impact on the environment, or working towards being socially progressive businesses. Sharing successes (and learnings) should be common practice. 

The Collective had a wide range of sustainability projects that they have been working on, from designing and working with local neon artists for the Upper House to redesigning a sustainably minded office space for Hong Kong Tatler. Betty Ng reiterated the importance of incorporating a circular mindset into every project they win. It’s not enough to find sustainable materials, but they need to build in sustainability into the next phase of life that the project will move towards, and it cannot be the landfill. 

It was very interesting to see the juxtaposition from hearing Ellie speak from a corporate perspective to Thomas Gomersall speaking on sustainability from a small family run business outlook. The term ‘guilt-free’ is based on the fact that their chocolate is sourced from areas and producer groups who are actively eliminating social and environmental issues in their supply chain. The farms in Latin America have strict standards on child exploitation and labour as well as being in deforestation-free areas, which is a significant environmental impact of cocoa production.

Source: Food Made Good HK

When asked by the audience ‘How necessary is it to have the Hong Kong Government support sustainable development? Are there any steps that we can take to push the Government’? Heidi and Ellie both shared complementary views that the private sector and the public need to use their voice to take initiative and hold the Government accountable for pushing sustainable development.

At the end of the event it was clear that it is not enough for an organization to make a sustainability plan behind closed doors but it is equally important to share this news with the wider community. Each panelist shared their innovative ways in which to involve the wider community to see the sustainability work they are doing. Cacao brings people in by eating ethically sourced and homemade chocolate, K11 has a beautiful and educational urban farm, the Collective invites patrons to immerse themselves in sustainability while sitting in an office space or an award winning bar and lastly Food Made Good brings the the foodservice sector as well as the consumer focus to thinking about sustainability issues while creating or enjoying a meal. Each of these four businesses makes it their mission to bring the community along on the sustainability journey for a better future.

Thank you to each of the panelists for providing an insightful discussion around sustainability in Hong Kong. We want to say a big thank you to the American Club Foundation and the American Club for inviting us to this wonderful event.