IFTM continued in 2020 making meaningful strides to further its progress toward sustainable operations. To this end, the Institute introduced new schemes and promotional initiatives throughout the year on its campuses, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The push for a ‘green’ IFTM is being led by the Institute’s Environmental Management System Committee. IFTM Environmental Management Representative, Dr. Helena Lo Ka In, says in 2020 the pandemic created specific challenges in terms of environmental waste, including a sharp increase in use of disposable personal protective equipment.
Dr. Lo says IFTM’s approach to tackling the wider challenge of COVID-19 itself is to ensure compliance with all health-related guidelines, while controlling distribution of protective materials. The Institute urges staff and students to be considerate in the use of disposable protective face masks in order to avoid their overuse and prevent unnecessary waste. IFTM additionally promotes proper disposal of the waste related to protective materials.
Amid the COVID-19 global health crisis, the Environmental Management System Committee also has been strengthening promotion of healthy lifestyles. That has included encouraging people to exercise and to adopt a balanced diet. IFTM’s Windows Cafeteria already offers vegetarian dishes every day.
Going hand-in-hand with these efforts has been IFTM’s push to reduce food waste. That has included promotional campaigns to eliminate food waste at the Windows Cafeteria. Such efforts echo President Xi Jinping’s message that China should take immediate action against food waste.
Promotion of balanced diets and reduction of food waste bring benefits to the environment. Research by international experts suggests raising livestock for food generates greater emissions of greenhouse gases – measured by a carbon dioxide equivalent – than does motorised transport. Industrialised farming is also considered an important factor in the degradation of land and of water resources.
Each calendar year, IFTM outlines a set of ‘green’ goals. Dr. Lo says the IFTM 2020 environmental objectives included reducing by 2 percent in year-on-year terms carbon dioxide emissions caused by electricity consumption. Similar targets were set for reducing water consumption and food waste.
Some 2020 targets have involved upping activities regarded as environmentally positive. The Institute aimed to increase the ratio of its recycled waste to its general waste in favour of the former by 2 percent. It also had a goal to host at least 12 environmental promotional activities this year.
Another objective for 2020 was to increase videoconference-based participation by IFTM representatives at international meetings. In normal circumstances, that was part of IFTM’s effort to reduce the portion of the its carbon footprint related to travel by Institute representatives. Due to COVID-19, this year’s goal for online participation at events was exceeded, as most academic conferences around the world were transferred to online format as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
‘Healthy and Green Month’
One of the annual highlights of IFTM’s efforts towards promoting sustainability is the Institute’s ‘Healthy and Green Month’. Dr. Lo says participation in the initiative’s activities has been increasing year by year.
The first ‘Green Week’ was held in 2012. The initiative is coordinated by the Environmental Management System Committee. This year’s series of events – held in September and ranging from workshops to a seashore clean-up in Coloane – was meant to encourage students and staff to protect the environment, to save energy, to live healthier lives and to work safely.
One of the highlights of Healthy and Green Month was a workshop on how to use either unwanted or expired cosmetic products to create calligraphy artwork. The workshop followed a campaign at IFTM to collect such cosmetics.
Ms. Julie Ip, from the IFTM Environmental Management System Committee Secretariat, explains there are a number of schemes for recycling unwanted packaging and containers for beauty products, but that has not been the case for the actual cosmetics. The workshop promoted a creative way to reuse that kind of product and avoid waste, she says.
In 2020, IFTM introduced new equipment at its Mong-Há and Taipa campuses to improve ‘green’ efficiency in its operations. Dr. Lo, who also heads IFTM’s Pousada de Mong-Há, says that as part of an ongoing refurbishment of the educational hotel unit, the Institute created 2 ‘green walls’, to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions through better regulation of temperature within the building and improved insulation of the facility. In addition, each guest room at the Pousada de Mong-Há is being fitted with an individual carbon dioxide emission meter, so guests can understand the impact their stay has on the environment.
The IFTM Environmental Management System Committee continued during 2020 several monthly initiatives focused on sustainable development. An example was the “IFTM Lights Out for 1 Hour” effort, and the “IFTM No Takeaway Meal Day”. The latter campaign is held on the 23rd of each month, with the aim of reducing the amount of rubbish generated by consuming takeaway meals.
The Institute additionally took part in international efforts to promote environmental sustainability, such as “Earth Hour”, which sees non-essential electric lights switched off to draw people’s attention to the threat of climate change. Additionally, IFTM’s operations have, since 2016, been certified under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001:2015 Environmental Management System.
Dr. Lo praises the results achieved over the years by IFTM in terms of environmental sustainability, helped by Environmental Management System Committee campaigns. Examples include significant electricity savings and reducing paper and print ink usage, she says.
The work of the IFTM Environmental Management System Committee is nonetheless ongoing, adds Ms. Ip. “Every year, we have new students coming in. So, it is all about promoting ‘green’ awareness on a continuous basis.”