With the increasing awareness of environmental protection, many renowned enterprises have been rolling out various campaigns about sustainable development. China also attaches great importance to developing an environment-friendly economy and strives to achieve the carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. Currently, both Chinese domestic and foreign enterprises are making efforts to sustainable development. ChemLinked collected some sustainable campaigns in the food and cosmetic sector and categorised them into three types: production, supply and consumption. Through analysis of these campaigns, ChemLinked hopes to provide insights for the companies that intend to launch similar activities.
According to a report from Ministry of Ecology and Environment, agriculture is a main source of methane emission, and animal husbandry accounts for about 60% of the total methane emission in agriculture production. Based on this, dairy enterprises launched many sustainable campaigns at the production level. Methods like feedstuff improvement and excreta management have been carried out to decrease greenhouse gas emission of pastures. For instance, the cows in the pasture of Jindian (a brand of Yili Group) reduced methane emission effectively by having more digestible feedstuff. Modern Farming, a Chinese dairy brand, equipped its farms with automatic excreta collection and closed anaerobic excreta fermentation system, reducing more than 40% carbon emission. Fonterra and Nestlé recently announced that they would jointly build a commercial pasture with zero-carbon emission in New Zealand by improving feedstuff and pasture management.
Dairy firms are easier to gain effective results on reducing greenhouse gas emission since their emission primarily concentrates on the production level. Whereas, although dairy firms have conducted many positive activities, they still need to set quantified goals for the whole company and standard method for farms to measure the reduced greenhouse gas emission.
Another means of reducing greenhouse gas emission from the production perspective is the development of plant-based products. The breeding process of some animal meat will cause environmental pollution. One typical representative is that the breeding of cattle will produce mass methane. Studies found that the greenhouse gas emission of animal food is twice that of plant food. Therefore, plant-based diet has fewer negative effects on the environment. In this condition, plant-based products, especially plant-based meat become extremely popular in recent years. Many well-known brands have unveiled a range of plant-based meat products, including KFC, Luckin Coffee, Tims, etc. Some other companies are also specialising in plant-based meat, like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
Moreover, a number of plant-based products like plant-based ice cream, plant-based yoghurt and plant-based eggs continuously emerged in the market as well. In the cosmetic sector, companies devote their efforts to adopting renewable raw materials. L’Oreal founded a strategic partnership with a French biotechnology company Microphyt by the acquisition of a minority stake. Microphyt innovated a low-carbon technique to generate microalgae. L’Oreal intends to create raw materials from microalgae as a method to ensure that 95% of the enterprise’s raw materials come from renewable plants by 2030.
Chinese company Yatsen joined Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in February 2022 and promised to purchase and utilise sustainable palm oil authenticated by RSPO.
From the supply perspective, companies in the food sector pay much attention to low-carbon packaging, which can be mainly divided into utilising recyclable materials and producing unlabeled products.
Coca-Cola UK started to use 100% reusable PET in their plastic bottles in September 2021. Currently, the firm’s plastic bottles are made from 25% rPET and 75% PET. Coca Cola’s aim is to achieve a 50% recyclable rate by 2030.
PepsiCo announced to double the use of reusable packaging from 10% to 20% by 2030 in a recent statement. In addition, it aims to decrease virgin plastic per serving by 50% by 2030 and become Net Zero by 2040.
Master Kong, Mengniu Dairy
Cosmetic giants are fostering green packaging as well. The paper package of L’Oreal’s sold products is made of FSC certification materials. The company hoped its use of plastics in the package would be 100% made from reusable or bio-based materials by 2030. Estee Lauder will simplify the product package by eliminating gummed tape and gift boxes. The product package will be 100% used by FSC certification paper materials by 2025.
Some companies have produced various refills of their cosmetics as a way of reducing wastage as well. Shiseido has launched more than 800 different types of refills, and more are to be expected in 2023, including some high-end product refills like CPB, IPSA, etc.
Some small and medium-sized companies may not have such funds to invest in renewable raw material creation or product innovation. Low packaging, like utilising recyclable materials and producing unlabeled products, offers a relatively easy way for them. Cosmetic brands can also produce alternative products of the cosmetics in their own firms to promote sustainable development. On the one hand, companies are supposed to take on the responsibilities of developing a sustainable economy. On the other hand, companies should find effective ways to fulfill their sustainable aims.
When products are sold to consumers, there are still something companies can do to promote the green economy. For example, under the empty bottle recycling plan, many cosmetic brands, including Lancome, L’Occitane, Kiehl’s etc., will collect empty bottles from customers and process them into reusable raw materials.
Saturnbird Coffee, a Chinese speciality coffee brand, recycles the package can of its products twice a year. Customers can collect these empty cans to exchange small gifts like badges, stickers, etc. The cans collected transforms into useful gadgets in life.
Recycling can be a common way for most enterprises to follow. Besides reducing greenhouse gas emission, it can raise consumers’ awareness of environmental protection and increase the interaction between customers and firms. Companies can provide reward points or attractive small gifts to appeal the customers to attend the recycling plans.
From these campaigns, we can see that companies can make their own efforts in sustainable development from different aspects. Diary enterprises may attach more attention to the production level by reducing pasture emission and the supply level by low-carbon packaging. Beverage firms tend to take more steps in low-carbon packaging and recycling. Cosmetic companies could take action from both the production level and consumption level. Under the long-term trend of green development, many well-known companies are trying to make difference in environmental protection. Although some small and medium companies are not able to carry out large-scale activities, they can also take their steps in sustainable development, for instance, improving the firms’ productivity to reduce energy waste. We have reasons to expect that more useful campaigns could show up in the future and every firm is doing something within its ability.
The sustainable campaigns have also brought beneficial results for the companies themselves. A number of enterprises have acquired financial support through their sustainable thoughts. British brand By Beauty Insiders, focusing on Clean Beauty and utilises environmental-friendly packages, has acquired USD 7 million. Black Sheep Foods, a plant-based meat company, gained USD 12.3 billion financial support.
Sustainable products are also more attractive to consumers. An investigation conducted by Bain & Company found that Asia-Pacific customers took much notice of sustainable development, and 90% of interviewees were willing to pay more for sustainable products. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency interviewed 970 customers from different types of brands, finding 59% of interviewees hoped that brands could take steps to confront climate change. Companies can probably have more sustainable campaigns in the future and will definitely benefit from the responsibility they undertake.