One man’s trash is another’s treasure
Cities in China produce over 200 million tons of garbage a year and Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP), which sells trashcans, mopping systems and other commercial cleaning products, smells a business opportunity amid the stench of rotting refuse.
Moreover, the land needed to store all this refuse covers 500 million square meters. But in terms of management, wastefulness in the local waste-disposal industry is rife.
The country could save up to 30 billion yuan ($4.84 billion) a year by improving its waste-management and recycling facilities, according to local reports.
The situation should start to improve after China’s 26-yearold environmental protection law was amended and implemented this year. Companies and organizations that fail to correct transgressions can now be fined daily and the fines have no fixed limits.
As such, RCP, which is headquartered in North Carolina, could hardly have chosen a better time to accelerate its expansion and growth in the country, one of its fastestgrowing markets.
The company, which both manufactures and distributes cleaning products, is celebrating its 20th year in China. A growing part of its business involves providing supplies for offices in high rises.
“Without a doubt, there is a mounting awareness of environmental protection. And it’s becoming more of a conversation driven obviously by government and regulations passed,” said Laura Turnbull, marketing director of RCP’s Asia-Pacific region.
The company launched two collections of waste-management products tailored for commercial spaces this year for the first time.
Working with airports, commercial property management groups and big hotel chains in China like Hyatt Group, RCP sells its products far and wide from subtropical Sanya in Hainan province, a southern island dubbed “China’s Hawaii”, to northern Xi’an in Shaanxi province, famous for its catacombs of Terracotta Warriors.
The company’s signature product, a plastic gray trash can called Brute, is one of the most widely used garbage receptacles in North America.
The amount of trash China produces is growing at an alarming rate — 8 to 10 percent per annum, according to yicai.com, a local business media, putting it above the country’s GDP growth — but there is also more corporate awareness of the need to dispose of it in an economical and sustainable way.
RCP doubled its investment in the country in 2013. It also relocated its Asian headquarters from Hong Kong to Shanghai and doubled its local sales team.
It recently met an ambitious growth target of having revenue jump fivefold within two years. It is now considering acquiring local manufacturers to further cut costs, said Neil R. Eibeler, its global president.