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Survey Reveals China’s Growing Desire for Green Products

A majority of Chinese consumers are likely to purchase products made from biobased ingredients that offer environmental benefits.

A new survey released by DuPont reveals a growing understanding of green products among urban Chinese consumers, with 70 percent expressing confidence in the environmental claims of green products.

DuPont said the findings reflect the potential for green products in the world’s largest consumer market and how this demand could help China meet its sustainability targets.

The “China Green Living Survey: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Biobased Products” found a majority of Chinese consumers are likely to purchase apparel, personal care, hygiene and household products made from biobased ingredients that offer environmental benefits. These “green” products use ingredients that are composed of biological or renewable agricultural materials rather than synthetics and are biodegradable. Since biobased ingredients such as enzymes often replace petroleum-based ingredients, they help reduce reliance on nonrenewable resources, DuPont noted.

While just 40 percent said they are “very or somewhat familiar” with green products, most urban Chinese consumers agree on the factors that make a product “green” and accept that biobased products meet the criteria. The findings also noted that higher-income Chinese consumers were more familiar with and receptive to green products, as well as biobased products.

According to DuPont’s research, Chinese consumers express greater confidence that green products are better for the environment than North American consumers surveyed last year. When asked about their confidence that green products are better for the environment, 70 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were either very or somewhat confident. A similar survey of North American consumers released in 2011 showed that 65 percent of Canadians and 60 percent of Americans were confident that green products are better for the environment.

“The survey demonstrates a growing awareness and desire among urban Chinese consumers for green products that offer sustainability benefits,” said Jeremy Xu, vice president of global sales and applications for DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “Greater adoption of biobased products in China could help the country reduce its energy intensity and carbon emissions, and advance a new era of green manufacturing.”

More than 75 percent of the respondents said they would definitely or likely buy biobased products in a range of categories, including 78 percent in clothing and 77 percent in personal care products. In the North American survey, about 80 percent of consumers said they would definitely or likely buy biobased products if comparable on cost and quality than non-biobased products.

DuPont estimates the market in China for biobased ingredients used to make a range of commercial and industrial products is growing. Already in North America, there are more than 20,000 products made with biobased ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the BioPreferred Program to encourage the purchase and use of biobased products. Dupont’s Sorona fiber is certified under the USDA BioPreferred program.

“Just like the United States, China has the opportunity to develop and promote products made with biobased ingredients as part of a strategy to reduce petroleum consumption, increase the use of renewable resources, better manage the carbon cycle and help contribute to reducing adverse environmental impacts,” said Ron Buckhalt, program manager for the BioPreferred Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chinese consumers already can purchase a range of products made with biobased ingredients, including detergents that clean at lower water temperatures for reduced energy use, and personal care and cosmetics products that are made with naturally derived ingredients rather than synthetics. Manufacturers can respond to consumer preferences as well by utilizing biobased enzymes that reduce water and energy consumption in the production process.

The research is based on face-to-face, street intercept interviews conducted July 21 to Aug. 6 by Environics Research in collaboration with N-Dynamic Market Research with 1,000 Chinese consumers in nine Mainland cities and Hong Kong.