The EU and China have agreed to press ahead with action in support of the circular economy (CE), despite tensions about the country’s restriction on waste imports.
At a summit in Beijing, they agreed a memorandum of understanding on the CE.
At the summit, European Council president Donald Tusk and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker met Chinese premier Li Keqiang (picture, left).
The memorandum will last initially for five years. It provides for annual meetings to discuss “the design, planning and implementation of strategies, legislation, policies and research in areas of mutual interest including major new initiatives”, the document said.
It allows for exchanges on management systems and policy tools such as eco-design, eco-labelling, extended producer responsibility and green supply chains, and on best practice in particular over industrial parks, chemicals, plastics and waste.
There would also be talks on the investment and financing of the CE, research, capacity building and training.
The document said both the EU and China recognised “the importance of the CE as a tool to realise sustainable economic growth, resource efficiency and sustainable development at global level”.
Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which promotes the CE, said: “China has long been a pioneer of CE policies and practices, and Chinese cities are hubs of CE innovation.
“Transition to a CE presents China’s cities with significant opportunities to create new value, economic growth, and further drive that innovation, while becoming more liveable for citizens.
“Collaboration and sharing of knowledge and best practices are key to unlocking these opportunities. Closer alignment on the CE between China and the EU is a significant step, paving the way for a global shift towards an economic system that works for business, people and the environment.”
Speaking at an event held as part of MRW’s National Recycling Awards last month, Department for International Trade waste specialist Deborah Sacks said China could quickly change towards a CE.