Our Environment

Setting the Tone from the Top 
“While still at the start of our sustainability journey, we have been taking ESG considerations seriously in our daily work. To be more strategic about our progress, we are crafting targets for sustainable development, especially concerning energy efficiency, waste and plastic reduction, and talent development. We believe that these initiatives will pave the way for Sa Sa’ s long-term development.”
Dr Guy Look, CFO & Executive Director


Our Aspirations

 As a leading cosmetic retail group, we are committed to protecting the environment by integrating environmental considerations into our decision-making, and implementing appropriate measures to minimise the direct and indirect adverse impacts on the environment brought about by our daily operations. 

Our Challenges 

Part of the impact of climate change includes more frequent and more severe extreme weather events that may have a direct impact on our sales and on the wellbeing of our stakeholders. They also put the supply and cost of our products – as well as the productivity and reliability of our supply chain – at risk. Sa Sa should take a proactive stand to prepare for these foreseeable challenges. 

Our Approach 

Sa Sa employs a workforce of over 3,000 in Hong Kong and Macau, and understands that the successful implementation of our environmental policies hinges on the support of each member of staff. During the year, we sought to embed caring for the environment in the DNA of Sa Sa. We must all work together to build a corporate culture that is mindful of resource conservation, and to play our part in preserving the beauty of the planet.


Reducing Our Carbon Footprint


Tackling climate change is listed as a priority in Sa Sa’ s Environmental Policy. Global warming reached a historical high in the past five years (2014-2018). Extreme weather has affected the world, and Hong Kong is no exception. Our products cover more than 700 international cosmetic brands, and are sourced from 27 countries around the world; this makes disruption to logistics and supply due to extreme weather events a risk to our business. Typhoons, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall also have a direct impact on our sales. It is imperative that we devise flexible and effective contingency measures to manage these anticipated risks.


Conserving Precious Resources


  Tackling Energy Consumption: Energy consumption through electricity (Scope 2 emissions) is the source of more than 97% of total carbon emissions within our operations. Among Sa Sa’ s main operation facilities, retail stores are responsible for most of the energy consumed, accounting for 80.2% of the total, followed by logistics facilities (13.1%) and offices (6.6%). In 2018/19, our overall electricity consumption dropped by 3.3% compared to the previous fiscal year. However, as outlined in the previous section, our energy intensity per floor space rose by 16.7% as compared to the previous year.

  Energy Efficiency Improvements: We have put in place extensive energy conservation measures at our logistics facilities, offices and retail stores. These measures include replacing the original appliances with energy-efficient alternatives, replacing traditional lightbulbs with LED lights, as well as independent control of ventilation in different interior zones, and clearly identifying the different lighting zones in the staff seating plans with a view to eliminating idle lights after office hours.

  LED Lights for Eight More Retail Stores: In 2018/19, eight more retail stores replaced traditional illumination systems with LED lights, adding up to a total number of 120 stores lit entirely by LEDs, or 84% of all our stores in Hong Kong and Macau.


Responsible Sourcing in the Pursuit of Beauty


  Taking a Lead on Microbeads in Cleansing Products: In 2016, Sa Sa introduced a policy to ban the use of microbeads1 in all our cleansing and exfoliating products by the end of 2018, regardless of whether the products are manufactured or distributed by us. This enabled us to join hands with our customers in protecting marine life and people’ s health. Sa Sa was among the first cosmetic retailers in Hong Kong that pledged to phase out the use of microbeads in the cleansing and exfoliating products we carry. This exemplary move set an example for industry peers to follow, and fostered discussions among Government and industry to regulate the sale of these products.

  Our Own-brand Products: Since 2016, Sa Sa has conducted thorough review of the ingredients used in our own-brand products. We implemented a voluntary disclosure process with our suppliers and learnt that microbeads were used in nine products. We immediately took them off the shelf, and began the process to source alternative ingredients to replace microbeads in these products.

  Other Products: Whilst we often do not have direct control over the ingredients in the products we carry, there is also no regulatory requirements in Hong Kong stipulating the disclosure of microbead use in product descriptions.Nonetheless, we took the following steps in an effort to fulfill our commitment to ban microbeads in all exfoliating and cleansing products that we carry:

  Required close to 200 suppliers to report the use of microbeads in the products they supply to Sa Sa.

  Examined 2,179 products, of which 24 were found to contain microbeads and were taken off the shelf immediately.

  Engaged with distributors and agents, encouraging them to persuade the product manufacturers to cease using microbeads.

  Strengthened product inspection and risk management to protect Sa Sa’ s reputation.

  Choosing the Right Partners, Adhering to International Standards: As one of the leading cosmetics retail groups in Asia, we take our corporate responsibility seriously. We also encourage our suppliers to adopt responsible and sustainable practices with respect to a range of environmental and social issues outlined in our Responsible Product and Supply Chain Policy.

  Encouraging Our Customers to Reduce Their Plastic Bag Usage: In 2018/19, Sa Sa distributed around 3.01 million plastic bags1 to its customers, a 5% year-on-year increase. The increased use of shopping bags was due to the growth of our business, with 3.6% more transactions than the previous year. The average number of shopping bags per transaction was 0.18, a 1.4% increase on the previous year. Sa Sa has pledged to invest funds from the plastic bag levy to promote environmental awareness. Last year:

  We produced Eco Meal Kits which were gifted to around 3,000 employees which were also available to customers to buy at our stores, in a bid to encourage them to reduce the use of disposable plastic takeaway boxes and cutlery.

  We sponsored the Green Hackathon organised by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association to raise environmental awareness and promote the sustainable development of retail.


Green Logistics


We don’ t see implementing environmentally friendly policies as a burden to our logistics department. Introducing measures to reuse carton boxes, or recycle cardboards and stretch film, has not only helped to save the environment, but also helped us save cost and time: a win-win for our business and the environment.”


Reducing Waste at Source Sa Sa is committed to supporting our city in achieving this goal. During the year, we continued to implement our strategy to reduce, reuse and recycle across our logistics centre, retail stores and offices, in an effort to minimise waste disposal to landfill.


  Our logistics and operations teams continuously evaluate packaging materials used during delivery and identify opportunities for cutting down the use of packaging material.

  Pallet wrap machines are used to reduce stretch film consumption in wrapping loaded transportation pallets.

  Since last year, whenever our stores replenish our 20 best-selling products, the order must be a multiple of the quantity contained in a carton box. This measure reduces the use of materials in re-packaging the products. Not only does it benefit the environment, it also helps us reduce the time cost in handling the packages.


  All used cardboards, stretch film and pallets at the logistics centre are handled by our recycler, with the recycling rate close to 100%.

  Proper Waste Classification and Handling

  Solid and Liquid: When we reached a certain quantity of solid and liquid waste, we submit a Disposal of Special Waste at Landfills Admission Ticket to the Environmental Protection Department. The waste is only sent to landfill through our vendors after we receive approval.

  Chemical Waste:When our chemical waste reaches a certain quantity, we notify the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC) to make arrangements for disposal.


Engaging Employees to Create Change


  Listening to Frontline Experiences: Sa Sa launched a survey across our stores in Hong Kong and Macau in early 2018 to better understand their current waste manage practices, and prepare for the imminent enforcement of the new Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Charging Scheme. From the 75 responses collected, we found that almost half of our stores did not have a habit of recycling their waste, while 75% of waste disposed were recyclable, of which more than half was paper.

  Every Little Helps: We began to record the amount of waste generated in our offices since 2015. This year, we generated 22,308 kg of waste, a 11.3% decrease from the previous year.

  Putting the Environment at the Heart of Our Communications: In 2018/19, we continued to leverage different internal communication channels to share Sa Sa’ s environmental commitments, aspirations and challenges with our staff.


Planting Seeds to Transform Behaviour


  Green Takeaways: We noticed that many of our office and frontline colleagues order takeaways for lunch but do not have the habit of bringing their own reuseable takeaway boxes or cutlery. This resulted in large numbers of single-use Styrofoam or plastic takeaway boxes being discarded to landfill. In response, the company’ s Chairman and Vice-chairman decided to use part of funds collected from the shopping bag levy to finance the production of reusable cutlery and foldable lunch boxes for our 3,000 employees. We can all do our part to reduce the waste we generate, and set an example for others to follow.

  Green Christmas: For the first time, Sa Sa organised a special Christmas party with no disposable utensils provided! Before the party, we sent electronic reminders to our colleagues, reminding them to bring their own reusable utensils to the party. We also rented 500 sets of cutleries from WeUse, a tableware rental service company, as back-up. Among the close to 500 party-goers, only 50 people used the rental cutleries: 90% brought their own. Apart from Christmas party, we have also stopped providing single-use utensils in other social gatherings organised by the company, such as monthly birthday parties.

  Green Lunch: Each year, we organised a Green Lunch to raise environmental awareness among our frontline and office staff. This year, we invited Green Earth and SEE Network to discuss the topics of plastic pollution and the importance of reducing packaging waste. Vegetarian meals in buffet style were served at this learning and networking occasion. About 300 colleagues participated in the four activities organised this year.

  Green packets for the New Year: In 2019, Sa Sa sponsored and participated in the Red Packet Reuse and Recycling Programme organised by Greeners Actions for the sixth consecutive year. Collection boxes were placed at our offices and across 50 retail stores. We collected 1,620kg of red packets during this festive season. With an average of 400 red packets per kilogram, this amounted to approximately 650,000 red packets, equivalent to saving 33 trees.

  Upcycling Waste: From turning used coffee grounds into handmade soap, to participating in a computer donation programme, we aim to support our employees to rethink ‘waste’ as a resource. We held a soap-making workshop, where 40 colleagues upcycled coffee grounds to produce a wonderfully exfoliating soap additive. For the 10th year, we collected unwanted computers from the office and from colleagues’ donations for recycling through Caritas Computer Workshop. This year, 81 items were collected, including desktop computers, monitors, laptop computers and printers.

Find out more


Please visit Preserving the Beauty of the Planet section of Sa Sa ESG Report and find out more on our initiatives and performance.


*Please refer to our ESG report for the definition and notes of these figures