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InnoFriday Talk #11 Review: “How So” Hong Kong: Turning the City Enzymatic

In recent years, DIY-enzymes have gained quick popularity in Hong Kong, with lots of enthusiasts sharing tips of how to make eco-enzymes from kitchen waste on the social media. Such enzymes are used to replace chemical cleaning agents and can help to reduce waste for our city.  Would this concept of sustainable living popularize in Hong Kong? Two guest speakers who are enthusiastic about promoting enzymes to the general public were invited to speak at this InnoFriday talk entitled Turning the City Enzymaticheld on 13 May. Our guest speakers taught the audience how to make enzymes at home and examined the opportunities and challenges of promoting eco-enzymes in Hong Kong.

Ms Celia Lau, Founder and Spokesperson of Grebbish, pointed out that we are surrounded by numerous petrochemical products in our daily life and the chemicals found in some common household cleaning agents may have various health impacts. Since eco-enzymes are made with natural leftover foods, water and sugar, they do not cause health problems. However, due to high acidity, they still need to be diluted according to different applications before use. Celia also demonstrated how to produce home-made eco-enzymes to the audience. Eco-enzymes can be used in household cleaning, and even on pregnant women, babies and pets for body care and cleaning. The organic store Celia works at is also selling eco-enzymes manufactured by the neighborhood. At her shop, customers just fill up their own recyclable plastic bottles with the enzymes which are charged by weight. This ‘community production for community sales’ model creates an all-win situation. Enzyme producers can share their excess enzymes, thereby reducing storage pressure and food waste. In return, they can receive cash coupons to enjoy more organic products. Sales venues can attract more customers and generate greater interactions with them. Consumers can minimize the use of chemical products and help reduce food waste.

Conflicts between environmental protection and business activities may arise sometimes. Mr Henry Ngai, CEO of Hong Kong Organic Waste Recycling Centre (HKOWRC), said he saw conflict between ‘recycling’ and ‘convenience’, which was also obvious from the ‘community production for community sales’ model and the HKOWRC production and marketing model. Henry believed that eco-enzymes have market potentials, and great efforts have been put on their package design and marketing in order to enhance consumer confidence. Spray bottles are used to make application more convenient for customers. HKOWRC is selling the enzyme products at a higher price at the CitySuper chain, boasting their immediate effect as natural deodorants. Based on his own experience, Henry also shared with the audience the actual operation and market challenges of promoting eco-enzymes.

During the discussion session, Celia, Henry and the participants examined together the various possible ways of promoting eco-enzymes in Hong Kong. Henry suggested that we should first decide on the objective – weather it is to reduce food waste, encourage DIY enzymes, or to seek new business opportunities. Some participants also pointed out that issues such as product standardization, relevant scientific evidence and product liability need to be resolved by the enzyme producers before putting their products on shop shelves.  In order to promote the benefits of eco-enzymes to the public, some participants also suggested to hold competitions and workshops in schools and housing estates.

We welcome anyone who has got innovative ideas to join us as an InnoTeam member and contribute to further discussions on this topic. Those interested please leave your personal particulars here. Let’s work together to spread the use of eco-enzymes in Hong Kong.