A saleswoman examines milk, yoghurt and other soft drinks on the shelves of a supermarket in Zhengzhou. Every business in the beverage industry is facing similar problems - increasing costs, constraints on natural resources and increasing demand for more pricing competitiveness. [China Daily]
Drink makers are investing heavily to make better use of resources and lower carbon emissions in China to achieve sustainable development.
There should be a systematic government plan to support the companies executing environmental protection plans, experts said.
The Belgian-based international beverage manufacturing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with United States-based General Electronic Co (GE) to undertake a series of activities to improve the efficiency of energy usage and reduce carbon emissions from its Chinese factories.
The company said the first phrase of the plan will be complete in 2013. It will help to reduce emissions of carbon dioxin by about 100,000 tons a year. Water consumption will also be reduced significantly for every unit of beer produced in China.
"If this project succeeds and is promoted throughout the entire drinks industry, it will greatly help businesses lower energy consumption and can help the country to develop into a low carbon economy," said Wang Yancai, director of the China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association.
ABInBev said it has done everything possible to reduce the production of waste and improve the efficient use of resources over past years in China. The company said it needs to strengthen cooperation with technology service companies to make better use of resources.
"We did everything we could. Now we have reached a point at which if we want to achieve our dream to live in a better world, we need GE to help us," said Ricardo Dias, vice-president of procurement for ABInBev.
Industry experts said cooperation between the two companies can create a foundation for the beverage industry in China that can help companies to achieve sustainable development in the future.
"The food beverage industry is a fundamental industry for the whole world. Every player in this industry is facing similar problems - which are increasing costs pressure, constraints on natural resources and increasing demand for more pricing competitiveness," said Wen Yuezhong, vice-president of GE and president of GE Energy China. "So there is only one way for us to solve all the problems, and that is innovation."
AB InBev did not reveal details about how much economic benefit can be generated from the environmentally friendly plan. However, it emphasized the company is paying more attention to ecological benefits.
The drink company is not the only business in China paying close attention to improving the efficient use of energy and lowering the emission of pollutants.
Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co, a milk manufacturing enterprise, said it aims to lower the production of greenhouse gases by some 15 percent by 2020 and it will buy credits from carbon trading centers by way of compensation if it cannot achieve the goal.
"When a company grows big, it might not worry so much about how to survive in the business world. We need to undertake more social responsibility and take care of the environment. That is the foundation for us from which we can seek further development," said Pan Gang, chairman of the board at Yili.
The Chinese government is paying close attention to developing an environmentally friendly economy. Lowering carbon emissions is part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
"There should be a systematic planning mechanism in place so central decisions can be carried out fully in local areas," said Xiang Jianjun, an analyst with CIC Industry Research Center.