China is entering a new decade of green

Recent wildfires in Australia, hazardous peak levels of air pollution in India, and the collapse of the honeybee colony population – the list of environmental crises occurring around the world is endless and is only ever-increasing. These ecological degradations call for drastic measures from all parties starting from governmental entities, corporations, all the way down to each individual consumer themselves in order to really make an impact in saving the world that we and our future generations live in.

With the world’s largest population and fastest growing economy, it is no surprise that China is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, close to 9.8 billion metric tons of CO2 from burning fossil fuels were emitted by China, largely driven by the superpower’s high level of energy consumption and massive coal production. China has faced public scrutiny from several international communities for years now. The country’s status as the global manufacturing powerhouse mainly results from previous trade agreements as well as multinational brands producing heavily in China. So, what kind of actions are China taking in order to address the pressing need to salvage our environment and drive the global sustainability movement forward?

Government: China to reduce single-use plastics by 2025

Evident in Alibaba’s Single’s Day promotion in 2019 where over $1 billion of goods and packages was sold in the first minute alone, online shopping has become a major staple in Chinese consumers’ everyday lives, resulting in the avalanche of plastic waste produced. To compound the intensity of plastic consumption, food delivery apps and services have also permeated the Chinese consumer behaviors, exponentially increasing the use of disposable plastic bags, containers, utensils, and more.

In order to tackle the global plastic crisis, the National Development and Reform Commision (NDRC) has officially announced that “By the end of this year, non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in places such as supermarkets and shopping malls in major cities, as well as in the country’s ubiquitous food delivery services”.

China will also actively promote alternative recyclable materials and establish an end-to-end system for disposing plastic products by 2025 to combat and reduce the use of plastic utensils in urban areas by 30% by 2025. This policy is huge news as it applies immense pressure on Chinese companies and carries major implications for them to hop onto the green wagon.

Corporations: Sustainable manufacturing is on the rise amongst brands in China

One way Chinese companies have been leading China’s environmental movement is through sustainable manufacturing. Sustainable manufacturing refers to the creation of products through economically sound practices and is a popular option for manufacturers that aim to capitalize on the green economy, minimize their negative environmental impacts, and reduce their consumption of energy and resources. Chinese cashmere brand, Erdos, is one of the first labels to adopt this practice and greenify all production processes, including machine manufacturing, design, supply chain, and sales channel as part of the Made in China 2025 initiative – all in aims to enforce sustainable changes and bring positive impacts to sustainability.

Moreover, Chinese retail and fashion labels have stepped up their game in eliminating carbon emissions by adopting environmentally conscious business models in leading China’s green movement. For example, Reclothing Bank, a Shanghai-based designer brand, upcycles old clothes and fabrics by giving them a new life and intriguing aesthetic.

Meanwhile, Finch adopts Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs like creating their stylish swimwear from recycled plastic bottles, instead of raw materials and oversees the entire production process, all the way from fabric sourcing to factory manufacturing, to ensure that they stay true to their social mission and values.

These Chinese brands are amongst many, following the rising consumer demands for more eco-conscious, sustainable products.

Consumers: Conscious consumerism amongst Chinese millennials and Generation Zs

Chinese millennials and Generation Z consumers are driving these demands for sustainable brands as they are more enticed by purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability and have a green heart. This shift towards conscious consumerism is mainly driven by their health concerns with safe, natural and/or organic materials due to China’s plethora of counterfeit scandals in previous years.

To further propel this health-conscious driving force, the substantial uptick of disposable income in these customer segments and their increasing awareness of environmental impacts on their quality of life calls for more Chinese labels to step up and lead the global sustainable movement in food, fashion and several other consumer goods.

In fact, Alibaba’s research arm found that “66 million customers, or 16.2% of the consumers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces, bought 5 or more green products in 2015 and were willing to pay an average of 33% more for sustainable products“.

So, brands should really “greenify” their businesses in order to appeal to the increasingly eco-conscious Chinese consumers. This way, brands can not only tackle the global environmental crisis, but also fully harness and empower themselves to target the influential millennial and Generation Z consumer segments.

Taking a step forward to a happier and healthier life

Although there is a long road ahead, China is evidently actively taking measures and steps to reduce their carbon footprint through regulatory policies, CSR initiatives, and at an individual consumer level.

Likewise, see how you and your brand can contribute to the global sustainability movement and shift consumption behaviour of conscious consumers towards a greener, healthier and organic lifestyle. OrgHive is a unique social and content platform connecting organic consumers and organic brands. Whether you’re an organic brand or an individual interested in health, wellness and all things natural, join OrgHive now for a greener lifestyle!

Jessie Lee

Author Jessie Lee

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