Summary: Plug and Play China Sustainablity Innovation Day in Shanghai
With the increasing practice of waste sorting in Shanghai, the topic “sustainable development” once again entered public debate. Innovation and Sustainability are inseparable and Plug and Play believes that everyone should take in a role in global sustainability. Innovation plays a multi-faceted role in enhancing market competitiveness and implementing sustainable development. It allows corporates to continuously drive advanced technologies that reduce environmental harm, improve technical efficiency and promote environmental and technological sustainability.
▎Sustainable Development Under a Circular Economy
With sustainable development on the rise, the topic of a circular economy is being increasingly discussed.
The development of a circular economy is the implementation of a new economic system, which enables complete sustainable development . It aims to achieve maximum economic, social and environmental sustainability at minimum cost.
The circular economy replaces linear growth with circular production patterns, and puts emphasis on sustainablity, thereby working towards the most efficient use of resources while still protecting the environment. The goal is to achieve "minimal pollution, recyclable waste and an undamaged environment".
On June 27, corporate partners, venture capitalists and startups from three verticals -- Supply Chain and Logistics, Brand and Retail and Energy and Sustainability -- were invited to join the Plug and Play China Sustainability Innovation Day in Shanghai to discuss how industries can promote sustainable development.
Angela Jin, the vice president and head of cluster at Plug and Play China, gave a welcome speech on the Sustainability Innovation Day
In 2015, the United Nations proposed 17 sustainablility goals aimed at protecting earth. In recent years, countries and enterprises all over the world have consciously adhered to these sustainable development goals.
On Sustainability Innovation Day, every guest voted on the sustainability issues concerning their corporatations. By means of this vote, Plug and Play hopes to gain a more comprehensive understanding of which sustainability topics are relevant to large enterprises.
The results showed that more than 20% of the guests were focused on the 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), Affordable and Clean Energy, followed closely by the 3rd SDG, Good Health and Well-Being, the 13th SDG, Climate Action and the 11th SDG, Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Bella Zhang, the head of Energy and Sustainability at Plug and Play China, shared her insight in global sustainable innovation with the audience.
She mentioned that, the future of sustainable development should no longer be one-directional, in that only corporates engage with the environment to draw natural resources. Instead, a new platform should be built, in which innovation and the environment interrelate, and in which companies of all sizes cooexist and interact. Such a platform could enable us to more actively explore the future of sustainable development where environment, society, and economy are interdependent.
Bella Zhang, Head of Plug and Play China Energy & Sustainability Program, presents her insights in Global Sustainability Innovation
▎Sustainable Innovation Strategies from Corporates
On Sustainability Innovation Day, guests from the Kering group, L’Oréal group and BASF shared how large corporates practice the development of sustainable innovation.
Highlights from speakers:
Christine Goulay, Sustainable Innovation Senior Manager, Kering Group
Everything has two sides; innovation can bring us very positive results, but sometimes we also need to be prepared for unexpected negative effects. To achieve positive results, it is necessary to always evaluate and assess matters from multiple perspectives.
Open innovation, advanced technologies, cross-industry collaboration are challenges to every industry, and to take them on is certainly not an easy task. Only when we communicate with partners with different needs from a cross-industry perspective, can we work together with stakeholders from different industries in this ecosystem.
Sylvia Xu, Senior specialist in Sustainable Development, L’Oréal
L’Oréal is developing sustainability with regards to four aspects: innovation, production, development and lifestyle. L’Oréal is integrating sustainable innovation into the value chain and is working together with our consumers to realize its commitment to sustainable development.
Wei Han, Business Director of Performance Materials and Construction Industry, BASF Greater China
With a growing population, the demand for food and energy is on a rise. BASF believes chemistry and chemical innovation to be one of the keys to meet increasing demand and solve related social challenges. Acknowleding our responsibility for safety, the environment and society, we create new impact in chemistry, and pursue a more sustainable future.
“Sustainable Plastics” Panel Discussion
Corporate guests from ExxonMobil, Shell, Tetra Pak, and Dow Chemical shared the challenges large companies face in sustainability, specifically in plastic sustainability. They also talked about existing opportunities and provided advice to startups in this field.
Highlight from panel guests:
Qun Deng, General Manager of Innovation and New Energy Technology, Shell
In terms of energy sustainability, the energy structure of our entire industry is shifting from high-carbon to low-carbon. Materials are undergoing a similar change towards more sustainability. In this sense, we shouldn’t only look at one material, but should, from a more macroscopic perspective, also consider the recycling of materials within the entire industrial chain.
From a perspective of innovation, many innovative technologies come from small companies, which is why listening to the ideas of startups is crucial. At present, open innovation is being strongly promoted, but can actually be quite difficult to put to practice. Successfully cooperating with innovative companies that provide effective solutions is a challenge for both large enterprises and startups.
Guo Ji, Manager, Venture & BD at Dow Chemical
At the present stage, plastic is mostly being recycled only by machinery. The innovation to recycle chemically on a molecular level in the intermediate industrial chain could be even more advantageous to implementing a more thorough recycling process.
Molecular chemical technology still faces a number of difficulties and is also one of the most challenging fields at present. We hope that through cooperation we can achieve breakthroughs in this field, thereby being able to bring the entire recycling process to the next level.
Dan Xu, New Product Platform Market Development, ExxonMobil
Collecting waste plastic and recycling it through effective physical or chemical means is the key to winning the “plastic war”. In addition, due to the different types of materials, there is no good means of separation at present, which adds a further difficulty to the recycling process and re-use of plastic.
What opportunities can such a situation present to these innovative enterprises? As a chemical company, ExxonMobil is actively looking for new products and technologies, while working closely with the whole upstream and downstream sectors to find new directions.
Jiayu Wan, Cluster Environment Director at Tetra Pak
Now, as an advanced pilot, Shanghai is comprehensively promoting waste management, which has greatly promoted the circular economy at policy level. In fact, the biggest challenge now lies in changing consumers' living habits. Successfully promoting this change constitutes a long and complicated process.
The environmental significance of circular economy lies in reducing the consumption of natural resources and objectively helping to reduce the generation of wastes through recycling and regeneration. We think this industry is full of opportunities, which is why more and more startups are engaged in this industry to explore sustainable development together with large enterprises.
▎ Startups Exploration in Sustainable Innovation
In the afternoon of the Plug and Play Sustainability Innovation Day, representatives of outstanding startups from three verticals gave pitches to corporates and venture capitalists to demonstrate their understanding of sustainable development in various industries.
The startups’ project types include various technologies such as green supply chain, degradable plastics, new environmental protection materials, circular economy, VOC detection, bio-fuel, environmental protection robots and other fields.
ORCA uses its self-driving boat technology to automate the maintenance of lake channels, improving management efficiency and reducing lake maintenance costs.
U-linkchain and Huidu Environmental Technology respectively demonstrated their digital environmental protection solutions and recyclable packaging materials provided in supply chain logistics.
Bluepha and Biolegeen are committed to promoting the commercial application of biodegradable plastics through different technical paths, providing the market with low-cost and high-quality biodegradable plastics.
TC Air introduced their newly developed high-precision formaldehyde detection chip.
MotionECO presented a recycling system for gutter oil – an innovation in the field of biofuels.
Guanjie Nano Antibacterial Coating showed different application scenarios of copper-based nanocomposites in supply chain, retail, environmental protection and other fields.
▎ Sustainability Innovation Platform at Plug and Play
The sustainability that Plug and Play focuses on is not just a one-sided, but rather complex project. This is because the understanding of sustainability varies from business to business.
At Plug and Play, Sustainability is a platform that supports the exploration of various industries in the field, aiming to uncover new technologies in different segments of the industries and embrace a sustainable future together.
On April 3rd, Plug and Play launched the first Sustainability Platform in Silicon Valley to accelerate and invest in clean tech and more sustainable technologies.