Sustainable Development Report 2020
SwireTHRIVE – Waste

Turn today’s waste into tomorrow’s


Waste generated 2020

91,336  tonnes

↓19% from 2019

Group waste footprint 2020

2030 target


waste diverted from landfill

2050 target

Zero waste to landfill

As the world’s population and affluence increases, so does waste. Landfills are reaching capacity. States are imposing regulations and financial penalties aimed at curbing waste generation. There is growing public awareness of recycling and the need for responsible disposal of materials. This is particularly true for plastics.

By reducing and recycling our waste we lower the cost of packaging, waste management and disposal, and potentially create new revenue streams. We aim to turn today’s waste into a resource for tomorrow and to contribute to the creation of a circular economy. This is what we do:

Reduce waste at source

Promote recycling, reuse and recovery in order to divert as much waste as possible from landfills

Manage hazardous and potentially hazardous waste in an appropriate, responsible and transparent manner

Reduce the impact of our beverage packaging

Explore opportunities to contribute to the circular economy

In 2020, we developed a Waste Management Policy. Waste management is not possible without collaboration. Opportunities need to be taken to design out waste, to reduce the use of resources and select materials that can easily be recycled. Using recycled materials, instead of virgin materials, creates a market for recovery and recycling. The ability to recycle is affected by local policies and infrastructure. We support the Hong Kong government’s municipal solid waste charging scheme. We work with others to reduce waste in our operations and to promote a circular economy. The management and use of waste can provide business opportunities. Our investments in Swire Waste Management and Fulcrum Bioenergy are good examples.

In 2020, we generated 91,336 tonnes of waste, 38,870 tonnes of which was recycled, reused or recovered. This represents a 42.6% waste diversion rate from landfill.

We generated 19% less waste in 2020 than in 2019. But this was largely due to COVID-19 related reductions in business operations. Waste generated at Swire Properties and Cathay Pacific decreased by 15% and 57% respectively.

Chart data Tabular data

Waste generated by division

Waste generated by division

2020 Waste disposed Waste recycled Waste reused Waste recovered
Property 30,585 10,810 47 0
Aviation 14,846 1,757 516 90
Beverages 5,646 22,345 0 2,592
Marine Services 1,088 206 0 0
Trading & Industrial 302 509 0 0

Swire Properties accounted for 45.4% of our waste in 2020. Tenants in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland were encouraged to reduce and recycle waste.

Swire Coca-Cola accounted for 33% of our waste in 2020 and 64% of our diverted waste. Its waste diversion rate was 81.5% in 2020, compared to 71.7% in 2019.

We aim to achieve a 55% waste diversion rate from landfills by 2030. Our long-term goal is to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2050.

Target waste
diversion from landfill
2020 performance*
2030 target
2050 target
Zero waste
to landfill

*for businesses included in the 2030 target

We aim to divert our waste from landfills by reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery. The 2030 target covers non-hazardous waste managed by Swire Properties, Cathay Pacific, HAECO and Swire Coca-Cola. They account for 95% of our waste. Hazardous waste is not included in the target. It is treated in line with local regulations.

The easiest way to reduce waste is not to use single-use materials and packaging, where possible. We collect data about our waste. We encourage employees and customers to minimise waste. We try to take account of waste prevention when we buy things.

Swire Properties’ waste management policy deals with the design, planning, construction and operation of its buildings. It evaluates the management of resources, analyses information about waste and tries to promote the circular economy.

Tenants and other building users generate over 90% of the waste generated in Swire Properties’ offices and shops. Engaging with tenants is critical to reducing waste. Swire Properties collects data about more than 20 types of waste produced by tenants, hotel guests and serviced apartment occupants.

In 2020, Swire Properties installed smart bins in the refuse rooms at Taikoo Li Sanlitun and INDIGO in Beijing. They record types and weight of waste and time of disposal. Around 90% of the tenants in Lincoln House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong participated in a five-month Smart Waste Pilot which measured their recycling rates and facilitated discussion on improvement opportunities.

Swire Hotels is:

  • Retrofitting 500 rooms at EAST Hong Kong, EAST Beijing and EAST Miami hotels with a water filtration system to phase out plastic water bottles
  • Replacing plastic water bottles with reusable glass bottles at The Middle House
  • Offering single-use toiletries on request only at The Opposite House
  • Installing a filtered water dispenser at the gym at The Upper House
  • Introducing a digital menu at EAST Hong Kong and electronic newspaper readers at The Upper House

Swire Properties – Reusable coffee cups

With Muuse (a start up), Swire Properties enables customers to borrow reusable cups at three cafes at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong. The cups can be returned at five places. They are washed, sanitised and returned to the cafes. This avoided the disposal of more than 2,000 cups over a seven-week period in 2020.

Cathay Pacific aims to reduce its usage of single use plastics by 50% by the end of 2022 (compared with 2018). This means removing nearly 200 million individual items and using alternative materials for other items. In 2020, Cathay Pacific removed over 43 million pieces. With the City University of Hong Kong, it looked at the environmental impacts of different alternatives to plastic. Cathay Pacific has replaced:

  • Stirrers and straws – Birchwood stirrers and paper straws are available
  • Meal utensils – Reusable plastic cutlery from Cathay Pacific flights is sorted, washed and reused
  • Snack bags – New design made from paper
  • Packaging for bedding – Reusable cotton bags are used as packaging for duvets and blankets in business class. This eliminates the use of up to 5.7 million plastic wraps per year

Swire Resources supports the Hong Kong Green Building Council’s Green Shop Alliance Programme. It avoids excessive promotional decoration and packaging. It encouraged customers to bring their own bags on its “No Shopping Bag Day” in 2020. It will donate HK$0.50 to an environmental NGO for every bag-free transaction on the second Tuesday of each month. It will also donate all shopping bag levies collected on that day.

We collect and sort different types of waste and work closely with recycling partners to provide credible outlets for the recyclables we collect.

Swire Coca-Cola aims to send no waste to landfill from its core operations by 2025. This does not include post-consumer waste. It disclosed its US waste profile in 2019 and continues to map the waste generated in its other markets.

In 2020, Swire Properties met or exceeded its targets for diverting waste from managed properties (commercial waste) and projects under development (demolition and construction waste) in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. In Hong Kong, it diverted 25% of its commercial waste, up to 68% of its construction waste and up to 98% of its demolition waste. In the Chinese mainland, it diverted 35% of its commercial waste.

Cathay Pacific sorts and recycles inflight waste on inbound flights to Hong Kong. Regulations prevent this on outbound flights. Cathay Pacific is part of an International Air Transport Association cabin waste working group. In 2020, the Cathay Pacific Group recycled 140 tonnes of plastic, 298 tonnes of paper and cardboard, eight tonnes of metal and 77 tonnes of glass.

Food waste

Swire Properties introduced food waste recycling at South Island Place and the new Citygate Outlets expansion in 2020. At Citygate, Cityplaza, Taikoo Place, Pacific Place and Island Place in Hong Kong, over 70% of food and beverage tenants have recycled food waste. In 2020, Swire Properties collected more than 7,000 tonnes of food waste from its Hong Kong and Chinese mainland properties and hotels. Most of the food waste it collects in Hong Kong goes to an organic resource recovery centre for conversion into compost and biogas. Some properties also have food waste digesters.

Cathay Pacific Catering Services works with two local charities, Food Angel and Feeding Hong Kong. Food Angel collects fresh food and ingredients and prepares meals for senior citizens. Feeding Hong Kong recovers and redistributes packaged food collected from Cathay Pacific’s inbound flights.

Cathay Pacific did not fly much in 2020 because of COVID-19. There was a surplus of inflight meals. The company donated over 156,000 meals for Food Angel to distribute to people in need.

Cooked and perishable waste is sent to a local recycler (where it is recycled into animal feed) or to an organic resource recovery centre in Hong Kong for conversion into energy. The latter received over 350,000kg of food waste from Cathay Pacific Catering Services in 2020.

Cathay Pacific Catering Services worked with a biodiesel company to convert 6,066.9 litres of used cooking oil into vehicle biodiesel in 2020.

Swire Coca-Cola sends organic by-products from its bottling plant in Hong Kong to an organic resources recovery centre.

Aircraft recycling

Cathay Pacific works with aircraft manufacturers, companies accredited by the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) and other end-of-life specialists to salvage old aircraft, and to recycle or reuse parts and materials from them. Up to 90% of components can be recycled, reused or recovered. Hazardous waste, mainly lubrication oil, is sent to specialised waste handlers.

Cathay Pacific started retiring its Airbus A330 aircraft in 2020. They are sent for processing to an AFRA-approved consignmentfacility with ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certification.

Ship recycling

Swire Pacific Offshore has a sustainable ship recycling policy. It states that all vessels at the end of their working lives will be recycled at shipyards certified by a reputable independent third party. This is in compliance with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. In 2020, MV Pacific Falcon was sustainably recycled in Alang, India. 98.7% of the vessel’s components were reused or upcycled.

Other areas

HAECO Hong Kong and HAESL recycled 102 tonnes of wood in 2020.

HAECO Hong Kong sends inflight monitors and waste lead acid batteries to specialised recyclers. Over 90% of the batteries collected were reused.

Old bed linen at Swire Hotels is used as cleaning cloths or donated to design students for upcycling. Lightly used linen and towels, and unused or partially used soap, bodywashes, lotions and hair products, are given to disaster relief and humanitarian aid organisations.

Working with NGOs, Swire Resources recycled Chinese New Year red packets, mooncake tins, clothes and electronic waste in 2020.

Swire Coca-Cola does not control what happens to its packaging after consumption. But it wants to transform the way waste is dealt with and to promote a circular economy. It supports the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC)’s World Without Waste goals. This is what it does:

  • Reduces single use packaging as much as possible by cutting its amount and weight and by using refill stations
  • Redesigns packaging so that it is easy to recycle, has value when recycled and itself includes recycled materials
  • Facilitates better recovery of packaging by clear labelling and disposal instructions
  • Collaborates with government, industry, waste management companies and non-profit organisations

Since 2010, the amount of plastic used in packaging three of Swire Coca-Cola’s water brands has decreased by up to 39%. In Hong Kong, it intends to install 300 water stations, so as to save an estimated 20 tonnes of plastic per year.

Swire Coca-Cola’s goal is for 100% of its primary packaging to be technically recyclable by 2025. It is phasing out Aquarius powder in non-recyclable aluminium pouches in Hong Kong. Its Sprite bottles are being changed to colourless bottles. They are worth more and easier to recycle than coloured bottles. By 2030, Swire Coca-Cola aims for its primary packaging to contain 50% recycled material.

In line with TCCC’s targets, Swire Coca-Cola has committed to collect and recycle one bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030. With TCCC, it is working to put recycling instructions on its drinks labels. It has formed a joint venture with ALBA Group Asia Limited and Baguio Waste Management & Recycling Limited to build and operate New Life Plastics, Hong Kong’s first food-grade ready plastics recycling facility. It will be able to process around 35,000 tonnes of PET and HDPE annually, turning the waste into reusable raw materials for consumer and industrial products.

Swire Coca-Cola: “Tap, Return & Earn” beverage bottle redemption scheme

Swire Coca-Cola had 12 reverse vending machines (RVMs) in Hong Kong at the end of 2020. Each bottle returned to a RVM entitles the returner to a HK$0.10 cash rebate via an Octopus card (except at Ocean Park), and Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong donates an additional HK$0.10 to environmental protection education. Data is collected via each bottle’s bar code. Bottles are compressed and collected by authorised recyclers.

Through this scheme, Swire Coca-Cola wants to increase consumer awareness of clean recycling. More than 2.8 million bottles had been collected by the end of 2020.

Swire Coca-Cola works with other parties in the waste value chain. In Hong Kong, Swire Coca-Cola helped to establish Drink Without Waste (DWW), a coalition of NGOs, beverage producers and bottlers, retailers and companies in the waste business. The aim is to reduce the amount of beverage waste and the amount of soft drink packaging going to landfills.

DWW has issued a paper to the Hong Kong government entitled Blueprint: A Statutory Value-on-Return Scheme for Hong Kong’s Beverage Containers. The paper proposes a policy and a governance and infrastructure model, with the aim of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the beverage waste collection system in Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, Swire Coca-Cola:

  • Supported a study by the China Beverage Industry Association of post-consumer beverage bottle (PCB) collection and the environmental impact of recycling PCB
  • Participated with the Washington Beverage Association and the American Beverage Association in a study of closed-loop recycling of PET packaging in Washington state

For more information, please see Swire Coca-Cola Sustainable Development Report.

Later this year, we will introduce a single-use plastics handbook that will inform our approach to sourcing and using single-use plastics and alternative materials. We intend to require all operating companies to do waste audits after businesses have recovered from COVID-19.