04 Jun The Rise of Circular Economy in China – Is the World Listening ?
The Chinese have been always one-step ahead in terms of technology and development. With being the self-acclaimed global leader for climate change, does the Chinese rising Circular Economy do justice to its industry? Read on to find what we researched.
A Circular Economy is the engine for sustainability and resilient growth in the developing countries. With being an advocate and global leader for climate change, China also takes claim on rising in the Circular Economy.
What is Circular Economy?
It is an economic model based on finding alternative methods for countries to manage their non-renewable resources and raw materials. Instead of using products in the traditional singular make, consumption and disposal method, resources are used for till their highest utility stage in its life cycle and regenerated in a cyclical pattern reducing waste. Basically, it’s recycling, reusing and repairing raw materials and products, first proposed in Japan.
They strive to create economic development through environmental and resource protection.
The ideas of a circular economy were officially adopted by China in 2002 and written into law in 2008. Being a domestic political priority, the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China legislated it as a national endeavour, although since 1973 various sustainability initiatives have been instilled.
Ultimately, China adopted the circular economy with much seriousness due to the environmental damage and resource depletion that was occurring from going through its industrialization process.
According to sources, China was accountable for 3.2 billion tones of industrial solid waste in 2014. Out of which 2 billion tones were recovered using recycling, incineration, reusing and composting. By 2025, China is expected to produce up to one quarter of the worlds municipal solid waste.
How is this implemented?
Circular economies are implemented on 3 levels.
First, on a corporate (micro) level, second is inter-firm (meso) level and third, in societal (macro) level.
In Micro Level – there is eco-design of manufacturing plants so that there is reduction in harmful waste production.
At the Meso Level there are implementation of Eco-Industrial parks, wherein industrial plants built in close proximity capitalise on the trading of industrial by-products and ultimately reduce waste.
Societal Level implementation is in terms of development of eco-cities and eco-provinces.
China has the understanding that the future is set in sustainable growth and a circular economy puts them in a winning spot. What better than satisfying consumer demands, framing job opportunities and protecting the environment, all in one shot?
China also has the ability to manifest growth in other developing countries by implementing the same model of economy. Projects like Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) gives China the potential to nurture and implement greater regional and international coordination, locking in sustainability growth before a window of opportunity is missed. Examples of China building its own business models include investments in plastic recycling sectors in African countries. 60 Chinese factories are engaged in plastic recycling in Tanzania, 20 of them in Ghana and 3 more registered in Ethiopia.
Let us look at an example of a brand implementing the above said practise in China, to get a better insight.
CASE IN POINT – MOBIKE
China didn’t have the concept of bike sharing like in other Asian countries, hence the Mobike version was an instant hit. It offers many unique Chinese characteristics and have earned the label as one of the ‘four great new inventions’ of modern China. It’s customers had cycled over 5.6 billion kilometres within a year of its launch in April 2016. Starting in Shanghai, the company forayed into 160 cities including Santiago, Chile and Manchester, UK.
The rapid growth and rise in popularity of Mobike can be attributed to social and environmental factors, the need for a quick transportation in urban areas which solves the problem of congestion and air pollution that is at an all time high in most Chinese cities. However the key drivers that have allowed Mobike to scale outside of China and what makes it very different from European bike-sharing schemes lies in its development and application of technology, including 28 individual patents.
Apart from that, many key contributing features make Mobike popular in the Circular Economy – it’s dock-less parking features, GPS tracker enabled, QR code scan and social credit system tracking the the habit of customers.
All in all, Circular Economy is one of the best practices by the Chinese government and a much required need of the hour!