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As demand grows, green consumption glows

By Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-06 08:34
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'Low-carbon' is new buzzword as sustainable biz turns effective

Visitors walk past the booth of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, or Inbar, an intergovernmental organization promoting sustainable development, at the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing in September. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Low-carbon consumption — that's the new buzzword among China's energy industry cognoscenti, thanks to the country's twin goals of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

The buzz phrase cropped up again and again at the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services, or CIFTIS, held in Beijing in September, as hundreds of thousands of visitors realized the benefits of bamboo-made disposable tableware, neon signs that glow without being plugged in, and hydrogen fuel cells that drain only water, which were all on display.

Bamboo, the crowd realized, can not only serve as a meal for pandas or as raw material in the making of furniture but also be transformed into a whole set of tableware, including knives and forks, spoons, straws, cups and even napkins.

Fu Jinhe, director of Host Country Affairs of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, or Inbar, an intergovernmental development organization that promotes environmentally sustainable development using bamboo and rattan, said: "Bamboo is a green, low-carbon, fast-growing and degradable biomass material. It can replace plastics in many fields. Currently, there are over 10,000 types of bamboo products, covering the areas of basic necessities of life.

"We are witnessing growing demand for green consumption in China. This year, our booth at the CIFTIS grew to 120 square meters, double the size last year, as our business partners have been growing. It's expected that our booth area will continue to increase in the coming years."

Green consumption refers to purchase of products and services that are environmentally friendly by way of use of low-carbon practices in manufacturing, supply chain activities or related areas, often throughout the value chain.

During this year's China International Consumer Products Expo held in Haikou, Hainan province, "sustainability" and "low-carbon consumption" emerged as key themes. A cup of "zero-carbon" coffee, produced by a domestic coffee brand, hogged the limelight. The production process concerned was said to be carbon-neutral.

Wang Luyuan, founder of Peasup, a Chinese plant-based snacks maker, said more and more consumers are embracing the sustainable lifestyle concept in China these days.

The company, founded in 2019, is one of the early birds to sell its products in the plant-based food segment in China. Its aim is to lead the trend of plant-based diets among young people. For now, the startup offers chickpea-based snacks, soy milk and pasta products.

Wang said plant-based food production reduces carbon emissions. To get the same 50 grams of protein, the carbon footprint of beans is much lower than that of meat.

Peasup is also focusing on carbon reduction in the supply chain. "To avoid the large carbon footprint generated by shipping, we plan to localize the sourcing of all ingredients by June next year," said Wang.

The chickpeas used in Peasup's production have been so far imported from Turkiye. But the proportion of locally sourced ingredients increased from 50 percent in 2020 to 70 percent in 2021.

Data from the company showed both retailers and consumers are embracing plant-based foods. Peasup netted more than 10 million yuan ($1.38 million) in revenue in 2021. The company's products entered nearly 400 Freshippo stores nationwide in August. In the past, its products were sold mainly online or in a small number of offline stores.

"Entering the biggest new retailer in China on a large scale is a milestone event for plant-based food makers," said Wang.

According to a recent report from global accounting firm PwC, in many areas, including food, clothing, living, transportation and tourism, the green consumption style has found wide acceptance. The market volume of green consumption is rapidly growing, market observers said.

Cai Xiaoying, ESG managing partner of PwC China, said, "The consumption sector, as a fundamental propeller of economic development, is leading industrial revolution toward a greener, more convenient and more innovative direction."

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