Environmental group WWF plans to launch a voluntary pollution-reduction effort this year targeting plastics firms in South China's massive Pearl River Delta manufacturing zone.
The program will focus on local plastics, electronics and textiles companies in an effort to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming, an official with WWF's Hong Kong office said at a fall environmental conference in Hong Kong.
WWF is the World Wide Fund for Nature, except in the United States and Canada, where it is known as World Wildlife Fund.
The Low Carbon Manufacturing Programme is focusing on those three sectors because they are among the largest industries represented by the estimated 50,000 factories in the delta. The PRD is a heavily industrialized and polluted region of China that stretches from Hong Kong inland to Guangzhou.
Karen Ho, WWF's business engagement leader for climate, said the program will help factories lower energy costs and reduce pollution. WWF will formally recognize successful participants a move that could enhance their images and attract customers interested in eco-minded suppliers.
``By associating with WWF's program, at least their brand image will be enhanced,'' she said. She spoke at the Eco Asia Conference, part of the Eco Expo Asia trade show in Hong Kong.
Ho said WWF plans to have five levels of participation, starting at basic certification and progressing to more difficult levels.
The group is working with the Hong Kong Productivity Council a quasi-governmental body that provides technical help to local manufacturers to flesh out more details, but Ho said the tools will include a system to measure emissions, a best-practices handbook, auditing and a transparent factory labeling system so potential customers and others can evaluate how participating firms are doing.
The WWF program is being funded with US$350,000 from the Hong Kong-based Bowen Capital Asia Green Dragon Fund, a regional hedge fund that invests in environmental companies and makes charitable donations.
She said the WWF program could complement a Hong Kong government effort launched in 2008, the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme, that provides HK$93 million (US$12 million) to about 1,500 Hong Kong factories in the PRD to adopt cleaner technology.
Hong Kong's Environment Secretary Edward Yau said Hong Kong has expanded tax deductions for environmental equipment, giving a 100 percent tax deduction on capital equipment and shortening depreciation periods to five years.
He said China has a hard target of reducing energy consumption 10 percent per unit of gross domestic product, and a 20 percent reduction in key pollutants, between 2006-10.
A recent report from WWF, Greenpeace and the Energy Foundation said China's strong dependence on coal is making it harder to reduce greenhouse gases.
Ho said WWF believes voluntary efforts can work. She suggested that government efforts in the PRD have run into implementation challenges.
``Even the local government has difficulty in implementing it because there are so many different businesses. You see the result. It is not very encouraging,'' she said.