Source: CHEAA-run China Appliance magazine

The new domestic garbage-sorting regulations released in Shanghai on July 1 brings citizens’ attention to household garbage disposals. Capitalizing on this, the sector starts to rise with sales multiplying. But how long will this momentum last?

The market expands driven by policy and growing healthcare awareness

The policy catches consumers unprepared and gets implemented quickly. It classifies garbage into four categories that include wet garbage (household food), dry garbage (residual waste), recyclable waste and hazardous waste, and requires residents to throw away garbage at a fixed time and place. The implementation of the policy brings citizens’ attention on garbage-sorting to an all-time high, and triggers their needs to find a way that saves time as well as energy. Garbage disposals, as a result, get significantly increased attention.

The market size of garbage disposals clearly expanded in 2019. The number of online consumers grew by 86.6% year-on-year in 2018, and 110.9% year-on-year in 2019, according to CBN Data.

Liu Hua, President and brand founder of Becbas, believes that, garbage disposals into households is only a matter of time as people’s awareness of environmental protection and healthcare grows. He points out that, “Currently most enterprises focus on product technology, motor quality, noise level and motor power, yet ignore bacteria-caused odors generated by rotten household food waste.” Liu Hua tells me that, many families throw out the garbage after their garbage bin is filled, which could harm their health with bacteria spreading through air. Becbas’ products could handily solve the problem.

New entrants flood into the market

The sector gets more vibrant thanks to the new garbage-sorting policy. It is learned that, currently major players on the market include international players such as Insinkerator and Wastemaid, and domestic players such as Becbas, Midea and Dengshang. And the policy-driven opportunity draws in more entrants including Whirlpool, Viomi, TOTO and Vatti to get a slice of the pie.

With 80 years of operations in global market and more than 20 awards and honors, the creator of this category-Insinkerator-only sells U.S.-imported products on Chinese market. Our interviewee from Insinkerator introduces that, the U.S. factory has a tight control over the whole process from mold development, processing technology, product quality, logistic, to inventory. Of its three lines-M series, E100 series and E200 series, M series is designed for single people or child-free couples; E100 series is for families with 3-5 members and its noise reducing performance is better than M series; E200 series, as the brand’s flagship model, excels over other series in all aspects at a price of more than 6,000 Yuan.

Whirlpool’s garbage disposals focus on the healthcare side. To deal with the bacteria caused by food scraps lodged in the garbage disposals, Whirlpool designs a large bacteriostatic grinding tank. The all-composite bacteriostatic material used in the all-composite resin tank, coupled with stainless steel blades, a grinding plate, a flanging grinding ring and an anti-oxidative rubber splash guard, effectively deter odor and bacteria breeding, keeping the inner wall of the tank and the feed inlet clean and fresh. It is learned that currently Whirlpool’s garbage disposals use either air switches or wireless switches. Its EG-G5 series and EG-X7 series uses PMDC motor and the antibacterial ratio of the two series is up to 99.9%. M3 series and G5 series are the main models promoted online, as I learn from the brand’s online customer service staff.

Dengshang uses its own designs in grinding plate, tank, motor and control system. Ying Xiaohui, Vice General Manager of the company, says, the blade plate and control system use its patented technologies. Its blade plate is capable of grinding tough fibers down to 3mm-5mm and other fibers to 1mm-3mm. As to the tank, Dengshang has three models-double-layer nylon tank, bactericidal and anti-corrosion tank and aluminum tank. Motor wise, the brand offers products using DC motor, AC motor and brushless DC motors for consumers to choose from.

While springing-up new players add more vitality to the industry, some enterprises place substandard low-cost OEM products on the market. Is it a blessing or a curse? Most interviewee believe that, the growing number of entrants will speed up the industry development, but a large number of substandard OEM products will leave a negative impression on consumers, which will hurt the industry development in the long round. They believe more standards are in need to regulate the market.

The sector grows amid doubts

Garbage disposal is on a roll with penetration rate and sales significantly improved in 2019. But coming along with popularity is the surface of problems. It is learned that, apart from noise level and the compatibility with the sink, more doubts point to compatibility with the drain pipe, odor and bacteria breeding and safety issue.

Speaking of compatibility with the drain pipe, our interviewee from Insinkerator says, a number of factors will come into play, for instance, space under the sink, power source, and plumbing system. “Generally, for newly built houses, we have a range of solutions to offer. But for houses over 20 years, we don’t recommend users to install a garbage disposal.”

Our interviewee from Whirlpool believes drainage is not a big problem. As long as users operate according to instruction, the clogging will be effectively avoided. And the product could extend its service life and reduce maintenance.

Regarding the odor of food waste, Lu Jianguo, Vice Chief Engineer of China Household Electric Appliance Research Institute and head of the Testing Institute of Environment and Health-related Products shares his insight. He believes that, user habit is a big factor at play. Flushing water after use can clean residues in the pipe. Plus, products with anti-bacteria function will also help. He points out that, “When more related standards are carried out down the road to regulate the sizable industry, users will have more solutions when they meet a problem. I suggest enterprises pay attention to addressing user pain points while develop on a fast pace.”

With new standards initiated, the future of the sector is promising.

Adopted standards of the sector are GB 4706.49-2008 and IEC 60335-2-16:2005 (Ed5.0). Lu Jianguo unveils that, new standard on garbage disposals has been initiated and is scheduled to kick off in 2021. The new standard will add several indicators including power consumption, water consumption, anti-bacteria performance, bacteria-removing performance and load on the existing six basic indicators which are grinding ratio, grinding speed, fineness of the grind, noise test, vibration test and mechanical strength of fixtures. Beyond this, it requires that, the product shall stop running when the feed inlet is open as an effort to enhance product safety.

Data shows that, as of June 2019, combined sales of garbage disposals in China posted 1.478 million units, of which project channels accounted for 68% with sales volume of 1 million units and retail market (e-commerce included) accounted for 32%. In general, the penetration rate of garbage disposals is rather low in China. Most consumption comes from owners of villas and newly-built high-end residences.

Speaking of the future of the industry, Lu Jianguo says, “The market will grow at a steady pace. Garbage disposal helps Chinese society go green, ecological and healthy. It also addresses the odor generated from transported household food waste.”

The interviewee from Insinkerator says the company will roll out localized products in the future. “China is a market with great potential. We have a targeted strategic deployment for Chinese market from the head quarter. Down the road, we hope to join hands with real estate developers for a win-win result. In commercial field, we also plan to roll out more well-targeted products for Chinese market.”

Liu Hua believes that, the future development of the industry depends on policy guidance, the cooperation of enterprises and the R&D of localized products. These, coupled with enterprises’ abidance of industry regulations and requirements, will produce high-quality products. Speaking of Becbas, Liu Hua says, “We’re going to make efforts in improving product performance and quality.”