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  • Writer's pictureAlizée CCM

China and Zero Waste Cities scheme: What does it all mean? 中国和零浪费城市计划:这一切代表着什么呢?

The Chinese government has implemented a national pilot scheme called “Zero Waste cities”, focused on eradicating waste. The scheme will run from May 2019 and is expected to finish in 2021; thereafter, the results of the pilot will be used to generate an expansion of the initiative nationally. There are three main goals:


1) Control the increase of industrial waste i.e. minimising generation of waste (Reduce)

2) Maximise utilisation of main agricultural waste to 100% (Reuse)

3) Instill a strong prohibition of illegal dumping of solid waste, and improve/increase recycling centre use. (Recycle)

1) 控制工业废物的增加,即尽量减少产生废物(减少)

2) 尽量将主要农业废物的使用率提高至100%(再利用)

3) 大力禁止非法倾倒固体废物,并改善/增加废物回收中心的使用。(回收)

Within these goals there is an emphasis on the “Three R concept” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.) This Concept aids the schemes’ function as an urban management strategy, progressively working towards zero waste.


Separated recycling bin points in Shanghai


How is the scheme going to be implemented and measured?


The Chinese government issued a work plan of action and measurement, detailing tasks incorporating social, economic and environmental values.


They include:

- Establishing a national consistent system for waste and recycling

- Promote green mining

- Promote green lifestyle and green products

- Financial support for green progress e.g. environmental pollution insurance, green finance etc.

- Involve third party enterprises specialising in solid waste utilisation and pollution control is encouraged

- Include waste classification and treatment of solid waste into cities’ infrastructure








Street cleaning of littering in Wuhan City - not part of the scheme however


Unofficial rubbish site, close by to water system in Suzhou - Rubbish leaking into household use water


Who is involved?


Ten cities across China have been selected to take part because of their urgency to resolve their poorly managed waste systems. The cities include: Ordos and Panzihua as the largest general waste contributors; Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou who generate the largest amount of medical waste; and Suzhou and Yantai who are the two largest cities producing the most hazardous waste. Chengdu, Hangzhou and Schenzhen are other significant waste generating cities taking part also.


Over 60 cities applied to take part in the scheme, signifying a national desire to improve China’s waste and recycling system!


Moreover, green enterprises also have the opportunity to get involved. They can promote a new perspective on pollution control and easily deliver a sustainable way of living, offering a range of green products for citizens and businesses to become waste free.


Why is the scheme being introduced?


The scheme materialised in response to China’s waste import ban. China bought 45% of the worlds plastic for recycling, however, did not have the sufficient means to be able to recycle/process it properly. This has generated a stock pile of 60 to 70 billion metric tons of solid waste in need of being processed; in addition to the new 10 billion tons of solid waste generated every year.


There is a high generation of waste solely within China. For example, China makes up for 28% of global plastic production/pollution. This accentuates the need for the scheme. Investing in well managed recycling bases and eradicating the concept of landfill, is needed to enter a circular economy. Jiang Jianguo, a professor at Tsinghua University’s school of environment, supports this notion, stating “ A sound waste utilisation industry is needed to absorb and convert waste into new products after classification.” Without the correct infrastructure, a sustainable circular economy cannot be generated.


Therefore, although the import ban halts the movement of overseas waste, this scheme should and hopefully, actively make a difference among citizens, by encouraging a circular economy lifestyle; thus generating zero waste. 因此,尽管进口禁令阻止了海外垃圾的流入,但这一计划应该——而且有望——通过鼓励循环经济生活方式,积极改变公民的生活方式,从而产生零浪费。

The benefits of the scheme?


Environmentally, the scheme advances on the laws surrounding illegal waste dumping; one of China’s biggest causes of pollution. One of the goals is to eradicate landfill waste altogether, and thus illegal dumping. Therefore, a circular economy concept will remove the likelihood of illegal dumping of waste from occurring altogether.在环境方面,该计划是有关非法倾倒废弃物的法律的新进展,而非法倾倒废弃物中国最大的污染原因之一。其中一个目标是彻底根除垃圾填埋,从而杜绝非法倾倒。因此,循环经济的概念将彻底消除非法倾倒废物的可能性。

Additionally, the scheme will bring economic value too. Experts calculate the output value of recycling and reuse of solid waste in China to reach 7 trillion Yuan (or $1 trillion USD) by 2030. This in turn, generates the social and economic benefits of 40 million jobs for citizens nationally. 此外,该计划还将带来经济价值。专家计算,到2030年,中国固体废物回收再利用产值将达到7万亿元人民币(合1万亿美元)。这进而带来了社会和经济效益,为全国公民创造了4000万个就业机会。

What do you think? 你的想法是什么呢?

Do you think a governmental, national scheme is needed to engage people and cities to become waste aware, and motivated towards a zero waste lifestyle? Let us know what your thoughts about the scheme are! 你认为需要一个政府的、全国性的计划来让人们和城市意识到垃圾的存在,从而积极采取零浪费的生活方式吗?告诉我们你对这个计划的看法吧!


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