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[GreenYes] Circular Economy Policy in China

See the article below (from The People¹s Daily, 2005: ). Maybe I¹m
asleep at the wheel these days, but I had no idea until this topic came up
over the last few days on GreenYes...
David Biddle, Executive Director
Greater Philadelphia Commercial Recycling Council
P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118

215-247-3090 (desk)
215-432-8225 (cell)


Read In Business magazine to learn about sustainable
businesses in communities across North America!
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Circular economy tops nation's agenda

From a philosophical point of view, there is no waste in the world - every
substance is a resource.

Choosing to recycle makes reusing things like waste paper, old bottles or
batteries useful again. It means that resources that went into making things
are not wasted.

China has made promoting a circular economy its major economic development
strategy since the beginning of this century.

A circular economy aims to ease conflicts between economic development and
the protection of natural resources, said Shi Hanxiang, a leading researcher
with the Ningbo Orient Environmental Protection Equipment Co in East China's
Zhejiang Province.

From 1980 to 2002, to achieve rapid gross domestic product (GDP) growth,
China's annual natural resource consumption doubled, Shi pointed out.

"The country has achieved the same GDP growth with huge energy costs that
are three times the world's average and five times those of Japan," Shi

National recycling

China intends to develop a circular economy by using the fewest possible
resources to meet its social and economic development needs.

At a national meeting on resources and the environment early last year,
Premier Wen Jiabao said that transforming the economy into a sustainable one
is vital to the nation.

Wen called for the promotion of energy-saving techniques and cleaner
production methods, establishing urban waste recycling and processing
systems and reducing the discharge of pollutants.

He also urged governments at all levels to establish scientific mechanisms
and to enact new laws and regulations on the environment.

A national office in charge of promoting a clean development mechanism in
China was established early last year and the regulation on management of
clean development projects went into effect in late June of last year.

In the past decade, the country has expanded its tree-planting and
resource-preservation campaigns and carried out family planning to slow down
growth in its vast population, at the same time expanding efforts to reduce
harmful factory and vehicle emissions, said officials with the National
Development and Reform Commission.

Local governments have also placed additional importance on sustainable
development and stressed not only economic growth, but also the impacts on
the environment and ecology.

Guangdong Province in South China, for example, has introduced clean
production and recycling economic development guidelines, hoping to build a
circular economic framework by 2010.

The province began to introduce trial clean production programmes in dozens
of enterprises by 2003.

By the end of this year, the province was expected to introduce standard
clean production systems to 100 industrial enterprises, turn 100 heavy
polluting enterprises into more clean and efficient operations and to
promote another 100 types of new clean production skills and techniques,
according to the guidelines.

The province also aims to recycle further industrial waste water emissions
and industrial garbage. By the end of this year, the province hopes to
recycle at least 45 per cent of industrial waste water and 85 per cent of
solid garbage, the guidelines show.

In order to guarantee smooth implementation of such a circular economic
strategy, the country has mulled and passed a series of laws and

The country's Cleaner Production Promotion Law, effective in January 2003,
is believed to be the first and most vital step to achieve a circular
economy and provide a solid base for the new concept.

The amended Law on Pollution Prevention and Control of Solid Waste was
launched in December last year and will be effective on April 1 of this

The old law on solid waste pollution prevention was drafted nine years ago.
Consequently, it has lagged behind the times since some of the articles were
too principle-based to be implemented.

Legal experts believe that the amendments are in line with the country's
demand for strengthened management of solid waste.

The discharge of such waste has been increasing year by year with industrial
solid wastes growing by 7 per cent annually and urban residential garbage at
a rate of 4 per cent.

Most industrial solid wastes include some which are dangerous or potentially
noxious if left to lie around untreated.

Experts estimate the ratio of residential refuse safely disposed of could be
as low as 20 per cent.

The National Development and Reform Commission is drafting regulations on
recycling old or scrap electronics.

It is estimated that China has seen about 4 million refrigerators, 5 million
TV sets and 5 million washing machines discarded annually in the past few

That number is expected to shoot up dramatically in the coming years when
the bulk of electronics purchased in 1990s wear out.

Most of scrap electronics contain harmful materials such as lead, cadmium,
hydrargyrum and chromium, and if not properly disposed of, can pose grave
threats to the environment, experts said.

Electronic waste also contains recyclable materials such as copper and

The draft suggests that consumers not dispose of scrap electronics
themselves, but rather bring them to electronics retailers who will be
obliged to reclaim electronic refuse and hand it in to qualified firms for
disposal or recycling.

Besides helping save the precious resources to be used again and protecting
the environment, the regulation is also believed to raise public awareness
over recycling and help to advocate public involvement in energy savings.

Upholding renewable energy as a priority in China's energy strategy, the Law
on Renewable Sources got approval from the Standing Committee of the
National People's Congress late last month.

The law offers financial incentives, such as a national fund to foster
renewable energy development, and provides tax preferences for renewable
energy projects.

Technical support

In recent years, scientific research has been carried out to seek efficient
and renewable energy and look for solutions to adapt to an already polluted

Working hard for nearly a decade, Shi and his colleagues from the Ningbo
Orient Environmental Protection Equipment Co developed techniques and
equipment to better dispose of industrial waste gas and garbage in 2001.

In their new methods used to dispose industrial waste, they use slags as
absorbents to soak up sulphur dioxide - a major pollutant in industrial
waste gases - and turn the sulphur dioxide slags into useful byproducts such
as sulphur enriched fertilizer.

This type of ground enrichment, named by the company as "ben fei" or a
principal fertilizer, has been recommended by the Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences as an effective agent to renovate saline soil.

The principal fertilizer has been introduced in a dozen of agricultural
trial zones across Zhejiang since 2003. Since it has greatly improved soil
structure and crop yield, the fertilizer is expected to be promoted across
the country.

Experts agree that the keys to a circular economy are low resource
consumption, less pollution, recycling and effective use of resources.

The main task at the moment is to carry out clean production - to encourage
factories to use clean resources and raw materials, to save water and to
recycle resources, they said.

Government departments including the Ministry of Science and Technology and
the State Environment Protection Administration, have helped Chinese
enterprises upgrade their production technology and improve their product
quality by promoting new technologies and international exchanges and

At the same time, costs of production can be lowered and working efficiency
improved greatly through using clean and renewable energy.

Many international organizations and agencies including the United Nations
Development Programme and the Asian Development Bank have launched dozens of
renewable energy projects in China in recent years to assist in the efforts.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---

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