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  • Célestin Toeset

EU and China Join Forces to Push for a Circular Economy

In a significant step towards a more sustainable future, the European Union (EU) and People’s Republic of China have agreed on a roadmap to strengthen cooperation on the circular economy. Director General for Environment at the European Commission, Florika Fink-Hooijer and Vice-Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Zhao Chenxin, finalised this deal around the time of the World Circular Economy Forum in Brussels at the beginning of the month. Outlined within the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2018, it sets the stage for joint efforts in tackling environmental challenges and promoting responsible resource management. 

The groundwork for this collaboration was laid in 2017, with discussions between the European Commission and China's National Development and Reform Commission culminating in the signing of the MoU in 2018. This non-binding agreement established a framework for policy dialogue, knowledge sharing, and joint initiatives in the circular economy domain. Today, the newly agreed-upon roadmap builds on this foundation, outlining concrete actions and areas of focus for the coming year. Collaboration will start as early as May 2024 with an initial workshop on plastics as part of the circular transitions of both blocks. It will consider the design, current and new life-cycle approaches and alternatives. Other workshops on battery value chains and remanufacturing have also been planned for the remainder of the year

Turning to the roadmap, it focuses on areas where collaboration can deliver the most impactful results. As mentioned earlier, plastics are a key point of focus. The roadmap will not only support ongoing negotiations for a global plastics treaty but also actively promote best practices. Beyond plastics, the collaboration extends to battery value chains and remanufacturing. These sectors hold immense potential for reducing waste and resource depletion. 

This renewed commitment to cooperation is rooted in the shared environmental challenges facing both the EU and China. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution pose a serious threat to the planet's well-being and our collective future. This approach aligns perfectly with the EU's ambition of achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and China's own initiatives towards a more circular economic model. The EU-China partnership on the circular economy sets a powerful example for international cooperation on environmental issues. By working together, these two major economies can pave the way for a more sustainable future, one where resource efficiency and responsible production become the norm. 


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