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Circular economy: Lessons from China - Advocacy for circular economy policy

For the past decade, China has led the world in promoting the recirculation of waste materials through setting targets and adopting policies, financial measures and legislation. In 2005, China's State Council issued a policy paper recognizing the economic and environmental risks of the nation's heavy resource exploitation, and acknowledging the circular economy as the principal means of dealing with them. A whole chapter in the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (for 2006–10) was devoted to the circular economy and the circular economy was upgraded to a national development strategy in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–15). A 2008 circular-economy 'promotion law' demanded that local and provincial governments consider such issues in their investment and development strategies. In 2012, the NDRC and the finance ministry called for 50% of national industrial parks and 30% of provincial ones to complete circular-economy transformation initiatives by 2015, with an aim of achieving close to zero discharge of pollutants. In 2013, the State Council released a national strategy for achieving a circular economy — the first such strategy in the world. The recently released 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20) further expands existing targets

  • Material impact: by 2013, resource intensity and waste intensity had improved by 34.7% and 46.5%, respectively. The recycling and reuse of waste improved by 8.2%
  • Emissions impact: The treatment rate of pollution increased by 74.6%
  • Financial impact: a circular-economy development index created by the statistics bureau aggregating all these indicators grew from 100 in 2005 to 137.6 in 2013

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