China commits to circular economy

China is taking steps to build a circular economy, according to the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, The People’s Daily.

The initiative seeks to boost the nation’s recycling industry so that it is worth 1.8 trillion Yuan (£183 billion) by 2015.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) states that the government has announced it will seek to increase resource productivity (measured as economic output per unit of resource use) by 15 per cent (of 2010 levels) by the end of 2015.

In order to meet this target, major plans for the country include promoting ‘green consumption’ and building industrial and agricultural systems across the country that are ‘cleaner and allow more recycling of renewable resources’.

The site quotes an unnamed NDRC official as stating: “It's imperative for China to speed up developing the circular economy as the country sees continuously growing energy and resource demand, piling waste and rising pressure in tackling climate changes.”

The move comes as the Chinese Communist Party also looks to ‘promote green buildings’ through enforcing ‘mandatory energy-saving standard and renovating existing buildings to make them greener by 2015’. Further, all government buildings are set to employ ‘resource- and energy-saving and environmentally friendly’ standards from 2014.

According to the website, the government aims to construct one billion square meters of green buildings during the 2011-2015 period and make green buildings account for 20 percent of all new buildings in the country's cities in 2015.

Pollution costing Chinese economy

The Chinese government has received much criticism over its environmental policy in recent years and pollution is a well-known problem due to the country’s increasing industrialisation and lax environmental laws.

Until recently it did not include ozone and PM2.5 (small particulate matter) in its air quality index, despite these pollutants posing the greatest risk to human health.

Indeed, according to a 2009 World Bank report, the state of China’s environment has been costing the country economically – with water and air pollution costing the government between 2.68 and 5.78 per cent of GDP in 2003.

The latest reports on the government’s commitment to a circular economy would mark a significant change of course for the Chinese government, and, it is hoped, on the air quality in the country’s large cities.