China planning to pilot “no waste cities” to replace foreign imports

Li Ganjie at the 13th National People's Congress recently

The Chinese Government has announced plans to develop ten “no waste cities”.

These cities will be chosen to pilot ways to ensure more material is collected and sorted, while also implementing waste minimisation projects to prevent it in the first place.


China is not seeking to completely eliminate waste in the chosen cities, but aims to “achieve the minimum amount of solid waste generated, and the full utilisation of resources in the whole city”.

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In a document published by China’s State Council, it outlined how China has taken extensive environmental measures in recent years. One policy it highlights is bans on certain materials being imported into the country and how it intends to “continue to promote the reform of the solid waste import management system”.

But at the same time, the document stated, China created a lot of domestic solid waste without using those resources effectively.

The selected cities will be required to implement “circular economy” principles with the industrial supply chain in particular having to consider both waste minimisation and use of more domestic resources.

Green design and green supply chain construction will be used to promote the reduction and recycling of solid waste.

Meanwhile, in a speech at the National Ecological Environment Protection Work Conference, Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Li Ganjie revealed that China plans to “further reduce the types and quantities of imported solid waste”. He said that the total amount of solid waste imported by China in 2018 was 22.63 million tonnes, a fall of 46.5% on the year before.

He also added that the new legislation, the revised draft law on the prevention and control of solid waste prevention that contained a provision to ban imports of all foreign waste was now being considered by the State Council.

In his speech, he also took a swipe at developed countries that were not shown enough “momentum in global environmental governance”, but had then questioned “China’s ban on foreign garbage policies”.

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