Consumption sector accelerates eco-friendly drive
By Global Business

Many companies in China's consumption sector are trying to become more eco-friendly. 

China's State Council last month called on the country's consumption sector to start paying more attention to promoting sustainability and to start catering for more low-carbon planning and products.

In Shanghai, Starbucks has just opened its first "greener store" outside of North America, with more on the way. The company said the store was constructed with recycled or biodegradable materials and designed for eco-friendly operations.

"First of all, on the water management, second is on the energy efficiency. The third one is about the building materials used as the responsible materials, and the last one is waste management. And we call it a greener store lab. So what we qualify in here, we will take it to the next 60 stores that we are planning to open next year," said Leo Tsoi, executive vice president and CEO of Starbucks China.

The company says it will also be recycling coffee grounds from the store and turning them into fertilizer. And the store will offer a plant-based menu to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and its water-use footprint. Many other cafes in the city are also promoting plant-based products like oat milk. The prices might be higher than those for the usual products, but consumers seem generally happy to support the effort.

"There are a lot of calls for environmental protection these days, so I'll buy them as long as the prices don't go up too much," said one consumer.

"If I can see they are doing really good and it's a truly sustainable environment they are working in, the price obviously will be higher and I will be willing to pay for them," another said.

McDonald's in China is also emphasizing eco-friendliness. The fast-food giant has ensured that its new Shanghai headquarters is a "green" building which, in its design and operation, reduces negative environmental impacts. Changes are also coming to its daily business operations.

"Our upstream vendors have pledged to be eco-friendly. And we are now using sustainable packaging, some of which will be recycled. Some of our baby chairs and toys now are made from those recycled materials," said Phyllis Cheung, CEO of McDonald's China.

Other than food and beverage brands, big names including Microsoft and L'Oreal have also announced they will start using sustainable packaging. Logistics companies like Cainiao are trying to reduce waste by recycling the materials in which their parcels are wrapped before they come to your door. 

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