The concept of a "circular economy" took shape in the
1960s in the United States, and the term "circular
economy" appeared in China in the mid-1990s. Promoting the
circular economy is intended to raise energy efficiency and improve
the environment by promoting the careful use of resources according
to certain ecological and economic standards and the 3R principles:
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
In 2005, the State Council promulgated the Opinions on Issues
Concerning Acceleration of Development of the Circular Economy,
which provide a policy basis for the development of a circular
economy in China. Three years later, on 29 August 2008, the
Circular Economy Promotion Law of the PRC ("Circular Economy
Law") was adopted at the 4th session of the
Standing Committee of the 11th National People's
Congress. It came into force on 1 January 2009.
The Circular Economy Law is intended to promote the development
of circular economy, enhance recycling efficiency, protect and
improve the environment and support sustainable development. The
"circular economy" as defined in the Circular Economy Law
refers to the reduction, reuse and recycling of resources during
the process of production, circulation and consumption.
"Reduction" refers to reducing resource consumption
and waste disposal in the process of production, circulation and
"Reuse" refers to using waste in unchanged form as a
product, or after repair, retrofit or reproduction, or using all or
part of it as part of other products.
"Recycling" refers to using waste as a raw material or
regenerating the waste for use.
The Circular Economy Law determines the planning rules as well
as the assessment and examination system of the circular economy
with the aim of resource conservation. Focusing on enterprises with
high energy and water consumption, it also calls for a stronger
rational incentive mechanism in a producer's responsibility
extension and management systems.
The Circular Economy Law requires:
the government to closely monitor energy consumption and
pollution emissions in industries that use a lot of energy and
pollute heavily, including those involved in steel and non-ferrous
metal production, power generation, oil refining, construction, and
government departments to promote recycling, improve standards
for saving energy and reusing waste and develop policies to divert
capital into environmentally friendly industries;
industrial enterprises to introduce water-saving technologies,
strengthen management, and install water-saving equipment in new
buildings and projects;
crude oil refining, power generation, steel and iron production
plants to stop using oil-fired fuel generators and boilers in favor
of clean energy, such as natural gas and alternative fuels;
enterprises and government departments to adopt renewable
products, such as those related to solar and geothermal energy, in
enterprises to recycle and make comprehensive use of coal mine
waste, coal ash, and other waste materials.
The Circular Economy Law is an optimal model for promoting the
strategy of sustainable development. However, enforcement of the
Circular Economy Law requires the enactment of supporting
regulations and administrative rules by relevant authorities under
the State Council. Some of these have been enacted and are being
enforced, and others are still being drafted.
The article was first published in Asian-Counsel magazine,
issue March 2009 www.pbpress.com
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