How Can Chinese Environmental Protection Companies Navigate the Industry’s Elimination Phase?

Since the beginning of this year, we’ve witnessed a wave of departures in the environmental protection sector. This trend isn’t just a coincidence; it’s a reflection of the industry’s evolving dynamics.

Attendees Engaging with Exhibitors at Ecotech China 2024

A closer examination reveals that industry trends often manifest in the language used within the field. In recent years, the environmental protection industry’s discourse has shifted through the stages of “competition,” “involution,” and now “elimination.” These terms, while alluding to the competitive nature of the industry, highlight an increasing intensity and a shift toward a more pragmatic understanding.

Last week, we attended a dinner party with several environmental protection entrepreneurs from the Yangtze River Delta region. The atmosphere was notably different from previous gatherings. Instead of venting frustrations about the pressures of involution, there was a collective shift towards rational analysis and strategic thinking. It was evident that a positive and proactive attitude was prevailing, with a shared recognition that the industry is now in the midst of a necessary and constructive phase of competitive elimination.

One well-regarded equipment company owner, with 17 years in the industry, remarked, “This year, the urgency is palpable. It’s clear that many of our peers are being systematically weeded out.”

Elimination is a natural and inevitable aspect of industry evolution. However, the environmental protection sector has experienced this process in a uniquely tumultuous way. It has taken several cycles of highs and lows for professionals to start embracing this reality with a level-headed perspective.

Historically, there has been a low awareness of the elimination process within the environmental protection industry, which has contributed to the precarious positions many companies find themselves in today.

So, what distinguishes the competitive elimination in the environmental protection industry? What are the implications for the sector, and how should companies navigate this landscape?

The End of the “Warring States Era” in Environmental Protection

Many industry veterans liken the previous phase of development to the “Warring States Era,” a historical analogy that highlights the tumultuous and fragmented nature of the past. Instead of lamenting the current state, we should rationally analyze the context and understand the overarching trends.

This perspective underscores the profound changes the environmental protection sector has undergone in recent years. All signs point to the conclusion of the Warring States era. A telling indicator is the tightening across all industry tracks. Upon analysis, this is evident in several key areas:

Market Contraction: After a period of explosive growth, the market has stabilized. This shift is not an anomaly but a return to normalcy from an abnormal state. This stabilization sets the stage for the current wave of eliminations, leading to consolidation and competition over existing market shares.

Clearer Boundaries and Increased Barriers: The boundaries within the industry tracks are becoming more defined, making cross-sector transitions increasingly difficult. Companies are shifting from an offensive to a defensive stance within their respective tracks, and the entry barriers have risen. Consequently, avoiding competition or seeking new opportunities by changing tracks is now more challenging.

Ecological Niche Gradients: Each track has developed an ecological niche gradient based on factors like professionalism, cost-effectiveness, and brand awareness. This gradient is the crux of competition during the elimination phase. Companies lower on the gradient face a higher risk of being phased out.

The conclusion of the Warring States era signifies the end of chaotic, low-threshold, and low-quality players in the industry as it matures and develops.

Frankly, the environmental protection industry no longer needs as many companies as it once did, and this trend will continue. A significant number of environmental protection firms will inevitably face elimination.

How should environmental protection companies navigate the industry’s elimination phase? This question weighs heavily on many enterprises at this pivotal moment. For companies in the environmental protection sector, it’s a matter of survival.

Understanding Core Value

In the hierarchy of business priorities, the top level is business operations, followed by the business model, and then core value. Recent industry changes have increasingly forced companies to focus on their core values.

A critical aspect of this shift is the need for companies to clarify and concentrate on their core values within the industrial chain. Each enterprise must ask itself: What is our core value in this industry?

Even during times of rapid opportunity, it’s challenging for environmental protection companies to earn profits beyond their inherent value. Thus, companies must clearly define their core value, align their strategy accordingly, and return to their core strengths.

Leveraging Industry Platforms

Ecotech China, a highly influential industry platform, integrates online and offline, international and local resources to create a comprehensive, efficient, and open cooperation network.

Online Initiatives

Wietec Lecture Hall leverages advanced digital technology and network platforms to overcome regional limitations. This initiative provides global environmental protection companies with a window to establish corporate images, showcase the latest products and technologies, and engage with industry leaders to keep pace with market trends and seize development opportunities.

Offline Initiatives

Ecotech China is the premier platform for environmental protection companies to demonstrate their strengths and expand their resources. Additionally, a series of corporate study tours are organized to bring high-intention customer resources directly to companies. These tours facilitate on-site visits, exchanges, and face-to-face negotiations, enhancing exposure and influence while expanding cooperation opportunities and development space.

Ecotech China 2025

Ecotech China 2025, a leading event in the industry, aims to create an integrated platform for environmental governance, encompassing products, technologies, and solutions. The 2025 exhibition will be held at the Shanghai National Exhibition and Convention Center from June 3 to 5. With an expected exhibition area exceeding 180,000 square meters, it will gather over 2,300 brands showcasing cutting-edge products, technologies, and solutions across the entire environmental protection industry, including comprehensive environmental management, waste gas management, solid waste disposal, sludge treatment, dust removal, desulfurization and denitrification, environmental monitoring, process control, and water treatment.

The event is expected to attract 90,000 professional visitors from various engineering companies and fields such as petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, steel, food, electronics, new energy, coating, and machinery manufacturing, offering vast opportunities for business expansion and collaboration.