On June 6, 2021, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment hosted the warm-up event of the 2021 Business and Biodiversity Forum (BBF) in Kunming, China, with the theme “The business and finance journey to Kunming: We are part of the solution”. The event took place as part of the UN Conference on Biological Diversity, which aims to convene partnerships to share ideas and solutions. Yili Group, Asia’s largest dairy producer, released its 2020 Annual Report on Biodiversity Conservation and 2020 Sustainability Report at the event. The company has been reporting upon its practices in both areas since 2018.
Addressing climate change and achieving a “carbon-neutral” future
Achieving “carbon neutrality” and “peak carbon emissions” have become key issues concerning humanity wellbeing. As of 2010, Yili has been working on carbon inventory for 11 consecutive years. In response to the UN 2030 SDGs, Yili has proposed solutions to the challenges of global climate change. In 2019, Yili successfully automated its carbon inventory by incorporating the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories into its own EHSQ management information system in accordance with ISO14064 Standards. Yili has reduced CO2 emissions by 6.51 million tons and saved electricity by 10.7 billion kwh over the pase 11 years.
Protecting wildlife diversity through desert afforestation
“With its roots in Inner Mongolia, Yili is particularly concerned about the ecology of grassland”, said Su Yufeng, Yili’s spokesperson. Due to the frequent droughts and overgrazing, Ar Horqin Banner in Inner Mongolia, faces the challenge of widespread grassland deterioration and desertification. To address this problem, Yili lauched an innovation herb cultivation model, that utilizes planting and husbandry practices. With annual production of more than 40,000 tons of high-quality medick and oat hay and saving 46,000 mu (1 mu ≈ 667 m2) of degraded grassland, the model produces quality coarse fodder for dairy cows while combating desertification and bringing important social and economic benefits to the local communities. This model helped to significantly increased vegetation coverage rate of key areas in Ar Horqin Banner’s grassland from less than 10% in 2008 to more than 90% this year.
Yili is dedicated to wetland protection and afforestation as well as wildlife habitats protection. In the company’s wetland ecology monitoring project last year, 16,526 species of birds were recorded at 39 monitoring stations in three national nature reserves in Jilin Province. Among these recorded species are endangered birds such as the Oriental Stork, the Red-crowned Crane, and the Baer’s Pochard, which has been described as “rarer than the Giant Panda” and is listed as critically endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Promoting organic lifestyles through environmentally-friendly packaging
Yili has been a major advocate of organic and green lifestyles by promoting environmentally-friendly packaging. To protect forests inhabited by wildlife, Yili’s Satine milk uses FSC-certified packaging. In 2020 alone, this program succeeded in converting 185,500 mu of sustainable forest into nearly five billion milk packages. Satine introduced organic lids partly made from sugarcane, a recyclable and renewable resource.
In addition, Yili has established a life-cycle supply chain management system, inviting suppliers to build a responsible industry chain for a green future. By the end of 2020, 19 factories of Yili had been identified as “Green Factories” by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.