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  • Ru Chen

China’s Circular Economy Policies: Review and Reflection

The concept of a circular economy (CE) was introduced in China’s policies in 2002, and since then it has gradually evolved into a national strategy and a fundamental pillar of the economy. The development of CE policies can be tracked by reviewing China's Five- Year Development Plan (FYDP) and the agenda of the National Congress. It is also known that the implementation of the CE policies follows a strict institutional structure and operational framework, leading to concrete actions and measurable outcomes. While the efforts and yields are worth celebrating, issues such as coordination challenges, uneven development, unsustainable success, and a lack of fundamental research are still undermining China's CE development.

To address the aforementioned issues, multiple efforts are put into seeking solutions. A report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that industrial or business areas present significant CE opportunities, which is backed up by a series of CE development recommendations (in the categories of the built environment, mobility, nutrition, textiles, and electronics). Similar to the call for a focus on business sectors, the report mentions that the lack of attention to SMEs in China is in contrast with their percentage and contribution to economic value and their impact on the environment. Therefore, proposals are made for SMEs to develop strategic partnerships with large enterprises, taking advantage of the existent industrial symbiosis, and making regulations and laws more easily understandable.

This white paper constructs a primary framework by reviewing China's CE policy development. Furthermore, the reflection on the implementation and performance of these CE policies leads to some modification branches, in which the current efforts are matched as an illustration of using the framework. Aligning with the research goal, this paper consists of a policy review, the implementation and the corresponding outcome, challenge identification, framework establishment, and its application.

Download the white paper to learn more.

China’s Circular Economy Policies_ Review and Reflection
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