Can "Made in China" Mean Sustainable and Ethical?

Recent developments on the Paris Accord have put China at the forefront of sustainability awareness. At IPL, this doesn’t surprise us…

As a company with manufacturing partners in China we’ve witnessed growing action against climate change; a veritable national march to transform the country’s polluted environment and pump billions of dollars into renewable energy sources and sustainable manufacturing.

Whilst in the past it might have proved difficult to get support and co-operation for sustainable production in this country, this support is now increasingly evident.

Indeed, Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang’s news conference, taking place after US President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw America from the Paris Accord. reaffirmed that the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter would fully meet its Paris Agreement goals.

Chinese University of Hong Kong associated professor Yuan Xu says climate change has become a “flagship villain” for China to tackle. “China sees climate change not just as a global burden to be reluctantly shared among countries, but more and more as an opportunity to organise domestic governance for achieving domestic benefits,” said Mr Xu.

“Climate mitigation has given China a great opportunity to upgrade its economy towards more innovation and new industries,” he said. Along with renewable energy programmes these initiatives also include developing safer and environmentally improved products, such as sustainable packaging materials and viable packaging closure solutions that look at removing magnets and certain plastics and replacing these with eco-friendly alternatives.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, says, “China has been taking leadership on climate change for many years.” She said China’s five-year plan showed Beijing was committed to curbing coal consumption and CO2 emissions beyond global expectations, and agreed it was also the world’s largest renewable energy employer, with 3.5 million people employed in the sector. This indicates another example of Beijing stepping into the world leadership space vacated by the United States, following China’s championing of global trade.

China is also speeding up green manufacturing development. The Green Manufacturing Association of China (GMAC) held its official inauguration in Beijing on 22 July. Yang Yuanqing, GMAC board chairman, said, “Green manufacturing is not merely energy conservation and emission reduction, and it doesn’t only concern heavy industries and heavily polluting enterprises. It’s a common concern of all industries such as steel, nonferrous metals, chemical engineering, building materials, papermaking and printing and dyeing. Each company shoulders responsibility to develop green manufacturing.”

We mentioned in our IPL May in Brief Newsletter, that within our own IPL office in Guangzhou, through the many factory audits we conduct, we’ve noted a sharp uptick in national awareness with regards to environmental issues. As outsiders, we’ve witnessed China’s Environmental Protection Agency cracking down on paper and cardboard facilities that do not meet pollution standards during production, and prohibiting importation of recycled materials that do not meet certain standards. At IPL we fully support these vital measures.

As a further indication of IPL’s commitment to sustainability, we actively research how materials such as hemp, soybean oil ink, latex, and pineapple leather can be adapted to the type of packaging required by our clients. Our innovations team dedicates significant time and efforts to creating and testing environmentally sustainable solutions such as fully compostable boxes and elements that prolong the usefulness of packaging and reduce its volume and incidence in the waste stream.

“Green manufacturing should run through products’ full life cycle and contain diverse content such as green design, green production, green operation, green recycling, green energy application, green packaging, green marketing and green trade,” says GMAC’s Yang. “Promoting green manufacturing is not only a social responsibility of a company but an inevitable choice for a company to improve its competitiveness and efficiency.”



  • China’s coal consumption fell for the third year in a row in 2016.
  • The last coal-fired power station in Beijing closed in March this year.
  • China’s National Energy Administration plans to spend $US360 billion on renewable energy by 2020.
  • The world’s largest solar floating farm recently opened in Anhui province, China, on a lake created by subsidence from coal mining.
  • Chinese companies are becoming dominant in renewable technology investment worldwide.
    Chinese company Goldwind will build Australia’s largest wind farm at Stockyard Hill