China unveils new circular economy plan

China outlines the next steps of its circular economy model within the remits of a new national five-year plan to that effect.

China released its newest five-year plan (2021-2025) outlining goals for the adoption of a circular economy system on July 7.

The National Development and Reform Council (NDRC) intends to promote green design and clean production as well as establish a recycling system that extends to Chinese society as a whole. Major objectives are the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources as well as the reduction of consumption and water use per unit GDP by 13,5 and 16 percent respectively by 2025.

In the agricultural sector, China is set to promote cleaner cultivation methods for livestock and aquatic products. Waste management is also a major concern, recycling being key here China intends to improve the recycling proportion of electronic waste as well as that of energy-saving lamps.

The NRDC also plans to create policies to encourage clean production in major industry sectors such as petrochemicals, chemicals, coking, cement, and non-ferrous metals.

Awareness campaigns to encourage consumers to buy green products that feature energy and water-saving labels or are sourced via less intensive production measures with regards to soil and energy consumption constitute the remainder of Council efforts to promote a circular society next to a circular economy model.

China’s green manufacturing

China has a mixed track record when it comes to developing sustainable policies-on the one hand, as one of the first countries in 2006 to adopt a circular economy approach, it has taken great strides in municipal waste recycling but on the other hand, the country’s share of renewable energy in domestic total primary energy consumption in 2018 was also 12.7 percent, lagging behind the EU at 14.1 percent.

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that micro-initiatives such as China’s eco-industrial parks (EIP) have already begun to bear fruit. Having stepped up the reuse of both solid waste and water by more than 90 percent between 2011 and 2015 said parks have also proven economically stable on the whole. Still, EIP’s only make up ten percent of industrial parks. The next step in China’s sustainable energy transformation will be a standards system for green manufacturing to be enforced by 2025, covering everything from resource input to eco-design evaluation.

China has set itself ambitious targets with regard to waste reduction as part of its circular economy plan. The country intends all its waste to be recyclable by 2025 with new products being made of 20 percent recycled materials.

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