1 Jan 2001
GREEN MASTERPIECES(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2001)
Vol. 1 2001
says children's toys cannot be interesting, fun, educational and environmentally
friendly at the same time? One Hong Kong manufacturer is doing its best to
prove they can. Greenworks Int'l Ltd has come up with arts and crafts kits
made of recycled paper, targeted at children three years old and up.
"Our head company [Starlite Holdings Ltd] was founded 30 years ago - we were originally in the printing and packaging business," says assistant general manager Peter Ng. Five years ago, the group set up a new factory in Guangzhou on the Chinese mainland, focusing on environmentally friendly interior packaging to replace polyfoam.
"About two years ago, we realised that we can make use of recycled paper to develop more products. After six month's market research, we developed a series of craft activity kits which made use of 100% recycled paper," says Ng.
Launched in mid-1999, the Greenworks Activity Kits are a line of do-it-yourself craft products that are both educational and fun for children and parents. They also have the added benefit of being environmentally friendly so children learn this important concept early on.
Greenworks has its own design team working on eco-friendly products. Today the line encompasses a wide range of categories, including the Dinosaur, Doll House, Animal Barnyard, Clown Puppet and Glow-In-The-Dark Clock. The kits include regular and glow-in-the-dark paints so children can make their own unique creations.
"The year 2000 was our first year on the global market but [our products] are already well received, especially in the US and European markets," says Ng. In addition to its own brand, Greenworks also carries out OEM projects for Japan. "There is a trend for environmentally safe products, even in developing countries.
"We are trying to increase awareness for our products on the market so that one day they will be sold in major stores overseas," says Ng. Greenworks distributes to retailers, catalogue houses and school suppliers in the US.
In order to develop eco-friendly products, Greenworks has invested more than US$10m to acquire new machinery and technology, says Ng. As further proof of the company's commitment to environmental conservation, the factory on the mainland received ISO 14001 certification last August.
In addition to winning numerous awards in the printing industry, the Starlite group also received a Hong Kong Eco-Products Award (in the design category) in 1999 for its Halloween Activity Kit, as well as a Certificate of Merit in Productivity from the Hong Kong Productivity Council in 2000.
"We are pioneers in this field and we have a mission to promote the use of environmentally friendly products for children's everyday use," says Ng.
Greenworks Int'l Ltd
3/F, Perfect Ind Bldg
31 Tai Yau St, San Po Kong
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Web site: www.greenworksinternational.com
stationery, attractive address books and pretty gift boxes are all items that
most people appreciate. APO Ltd makes these items truly special so they can
be cherished for years to come.
Founded in 1998, APO specializes in OEM stationery and gift items. Having doubled in size since then, the company now has two factories with a total of 1,000 workers in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. Turnover averages HK$4m-8m a month, depending on demand, with raw materials coming from South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and the Chinese mainland.
"I've been in this business for 10 years," says Ray Lam, founder and managing director of APO. "Back in 1990 there weren't many competitors, but today there are a lot of people in this business. We have to develop our own product line to compete with all these new companies. I think in the near future we also have to develop a private brand name."
One of APO's most successful products to date is a baby keepsake box. Measuring 12x8 inches, the box can hold a number of sentimental items - it even has a small envelope for storing baby teeth. "We do millions of these boxes for our US customers," says Lam.
Another popular product is a backpack photo album for children. The 2R-size album, with the design patented by APO's client, has a hook that can be attached to a child's pack. "Kids can use this for photos or even trading cards."
APO's main export market is the US, where its products sell in stores such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Costco. OEM products include household names such as Snoopy, Betty Boop, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit.
Design development is important, Lam says, because clients want manufacturers who can both design and make products. "Right now we are working on our own in-house design portfolio and we are looking for a chance to get into the Chinese mainland market." He says APO is also breaking into the European market, specifically Austria and Germany.
"We are trying to combine paper with plastic and metal to diversify our product designs," says Lam. APO has developed a new product, an "environmentally safe" photo album that uses acid-free paper. "These photo albums are made of PP, which is non-toxic. It's photo-safe so photographs stored here won't fade for at least 10 years."
Lam says what makes the company attractive, aside from its range of high-quality products, is its focus on good service. "We have very quick service and competitive prices. But I think service is more important than prices. We really work with our customers - they give us ideas and we improve on them, and sometimes we act as troubleshooters for their ideas."
WRITTEN BY MELISSA G. WESTCOTT
Level 13, Landmark North
Sheung Shui, New Territories
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