China’s environmental innovations on show at Taobao Maker Festival

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Taobao Maker Festival, one of the biggest offline events held by e-commerce giant Alibaba to showcase the maker spirit of merchants and designers, is now in its fourth year. As the scale and diversity of the festival keep expanding, the event has been extended to run for 14 days this year. With more brands and merchants joining the festival, some of them are focused wholly on environmental protection.

Food delivery platform Ele.me aims to recycle its take-out plastic waste and turn them into fashionable products. “At Ele.me’s relab, we will collect some recyclable plastic and remake it into beautiful trinkets to give them back to customers,” an employee told TechNode.

The Ele.me relab booth is divided into two sections, the recycling area encourages visitors to sort and recycle garbage with its AI garbage sorting and recycling machine. And the display area showcases various products made from recycled plastic food delivery boxes and used delivery bags.

“The concept of Taobao Maker Festival is to create,” she said. “We hope to create some fashionable products from the perspective of environmental protection.”

Following the global vegan movement trend, this year’s Taobao Maker Festival provides visitors a chance to try plant-based “meat” made by Hong Kong-based social enterprise GreenMonday, making it one of the must-see booths at Taobao Maker Festival.

David Yeung, founder of GreenMonday, told TechNode that right now the whole animal production chain is facing challenges in developing sustainably, and creating vegan meat can relieve the environment burden and supplement the increasing demand for real meat.

“The whole concept of vegan meat is to extract vegetable protein and synthesize it into something very similar to beef, pork, or chicken that we consume in daily life,” he said.

Yeung said there’s an educational process for every new product from emergence to acceptance, but once the public realizes the taste and nutritional value are no different to those of real meat, it won’t take long for them to gain acceptance, especially among younger generations.

“Millennials and Gen Z, and more broadly people under the age of 35, are the groups where we saw the most rapid increase in vegetarians or flexitarians numbers,” Yeung said. “There’s an increased awareness in these groups to eat healthier and environmental-friendly goods.”