Together for a Sustainable Future

Progressing Towards Eco-friendliness: Enterprises’ Latest Sustainable Initiatives Recap

by Jekyl He Nov 30, 2023

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In recent years, due to companies’ growing awareness of environmental protection and government’s advocacy for sustainability, more sustainable campaigns have been launched by enterprises, with a particular focus on reducing carbon emissions. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Development Programme among over 200 firms in China, 55.5% of them have implemented emission reduction measures. [1]

Concurrently, Chinese consumers' sustainable consciousness has also witnessed significant growth as demonstrated by a study by Deloitte in 2022. [2] The study found that 66% of Chinese consumers were willing to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly products. Notably, within the cosmetic and food & beverage sectors, 72% and 70% of consumers, respectively, expressed the willingness to accept higher prices for sustainable products. 

Driven by consumers' increasing environmental consciousness, companies is making more efforts to carry out sustainable initiatives, aiming to leave favorable impressions on consumers. ChemLinked rounded up the latest eco-friendly campaigns in China in the second half of 2023, hoping to provide valuable information for companies considering similar actions.

1. Eco-friendly Packaging

Rolling out sustainable product packaging is one of the commonplace ways for enterprises to make contributions to the environment. Companies have adopted measures such as launching product refills and large-sized products, replacing plastic labels with electronic tags, decreasing ink printing, and preventing excessive packaging to reduce environmental pollution. Consumers also prefer brands’ innovation of their packaging to align with sustainable development goals. Over 90% of consumers agree that measures like utilising refillable or recyclable packaging, and simplifying product packaging are beneficial for sustainable development. [3]

Recently, food, beverage and cosmetic brands have unveiled new eco-friendly packaging solutions for their products. For instance, Mengniu launched its first all-polyethylene (PE) yogurt pouch with the cooperation of Dow, a globally leading materials science company. This newly-developed packaging integrates materials into closed-loop recycling systems through responsible recycling and mechanical recycling technologies, expecting to address the challenge of traditionally difficult-to-recycle materials, and offering consumers more sustainable packaging options. Furthermore, Mengniu has committed to achieving 100% technically recyclable packaging by 2025 and applying low-carbon packaging in all product lines.

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Yili also introduced a new low-carbon packaging solution for its 200ml dairy product. This innovative pack eliminates the aluminum foil layer and decreases the used amount of printing ink to reduce carbon emissions. Besides, the plastic handle of the outer box is also removed to decrease plastic use. Consequently, each product achieves a reduction of 11.12gCO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in emissions.

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In the personal care sector, the packaging bottle of Head & Shoulders’s new product has a 35% reduction in plastics. In addition, the bottle is soft enough to be rolled up, improving shampoo utilization and reducing waste. The 95% PET bottle of Aveda’s new series Invati adopts 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. Moreover, the brand’s parent company Esteé Lauder committed that the proportion of PCR materials of the group’s product packaging will reach over 25% in 2025. (More sustainable movements of cosmetic enterprises on ChemLinked.) 

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Head & Shoulders’ Rolled-up Packaging Bottle (Left)  Aveda’s Invati Series (Right)

2. Empty Bottle Reuse

Collecting empty bottles for secondary use is another regular method employed by companies to promote sustainable development. Brands can highlight this practice as a selling point to attract environmentally-conscious consumers and strengthen their interaction with consumers.

During the Double Eleven Shopping Festival this year, L’ Oréal China cooperated with Xianyu, a Chinese online transaction platform for second-hand commodities, rolling out Empty Bottle Transformation Plan, to promote the circulation and reuse of these bottles. Users can exchange their empty bottles for brands’ rewards on Xianyu. Starbucks and Xianyu jointly launched a “scrap iron for latte” campaign, enabling consumers to win Starbucks' toffee nut latte by listing unused ironwork on the platform. 

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Moreover, recently, coffee brand Saturnbird’s empty pods reuse campaign shifted from twice a year towards day-to-day. Consumers can collect the brand’s empty coffee pods in exchange for various gifts such as badges, bags, vacuum cups, etc. Currently, this campaign has been launched in 79 cities in China, covering over 210,000 users, with 29 million empty pods recycled already. 

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3. Low-carbon Factory

Reducing carbon emissions during the production is also an essential part of enterprises’ sustainable practices. The 2022 Sustainable Consumption Report indicates that if consumers become aware of significant energy and resource waste in the manufacturing process, 84.78% of them would refrain from purchasing it. [4] In this condition, companies also are endeavouring to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the production level.

For example, DSM-Firmenich announced that three of its factories had signed five-year agreements for green electricity trading, aiming to promote internal energy system reform and establish green supply chains at an accelerated rate. Currently, the proportion of green electricity use in all its factories in China reach 40% in 2023. These three factories will achieve 100% green electricity supply in 2028. 

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4. Sustainable Store

Some enterprises are trying to forge low-carbon offline stores to fulfill environmental responsibility, which requires more investment and effort compared with sustainable packaging and empty bottle reuse.

For instance, recently, McDonald's announced the opening of 2,500 green restaurants in China, which can continuously reduce environmental impacts through various measures such as site selection, building design and energy management, resulting in the reduction of over 80,000 tons of carbon emissions per year. Tim Hortons, as recognizing that the usual disposal of coffee grounds can generate a large amount of harmful greenhouse gases, opened its first coffee-grounds theme sustainable trial store in China, where coffee grounds are integrated into many parts to enhance the sustainability of coffee products. For example, the store’s main building material incorporates a mixture of coffee grounds and straw. Besides, coffee grounds are used in the manufacture of bar, chairs and decorative paintings. Additionally, consumers can take away the coffee grounds for secondary use, such as refrigerator deodorant, fertilisers for flowers, etc. 

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Apart from all the sustainable initiatives mentioned above, there are many other measures enterprises can take to protect the environment. Selecting appropriate ways to conduct environment-friendly campaigns is not only the companies’ responsibility to promote sustainable development, but also a critical step for them to improve self-images and gain consumers’ preference for their products.

**Disclaimer: The cover image and all images used in the article are from the Internet.


Recommended Reading

Sustainable Development — What Campaigns Have Enterprises Launched?

Jekyl He
ChemLinked Market Research Analyst
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