A seminar to provide an overview of the current situation of the circular economy in Germany and China was held on Sept 19 in the city of Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, with proceedings also held online.
The circular economy or CE is the government's sustainable development strategy that aims to improve the efficiency of materials and energy use. It involves broad efficiency-oriented controls during the closed-loop flows of materials at all stages of production, distribution and consumption. The starting point of CE's implementation began in 1996 in Germany.
A common feature of both countries' CE policies is to prevent further environmental deterioration and to conserve scarce resources through effective waste management, especially integrated solid waste management.
The seminar was co-hosted by Shanxi Association for Science and Technology and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit – Germany's main development agency, whose purpose is international cooperation for sustainable development.
Six experts on the circular economy from the two countries held talks and discussed the best practices of circular economy in North Rhine-Westphalia region (NRW) in Germany, the policies promoting circular economy parks, and the selection of resource recycling paths in Shanxi under the background of peak carbon and neutrality.
One of the keynote speakers was Michael Hermanns, director of the European and International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Transport of the NRW.
He said in his speech that excessive resource extraction and processing led to rising prices of various raw materials, which in turn led to scarcity and depletion of resources. As a result, the concept of the circular economy has become one of the hottest topics in the world.
"Resource recycling has become an important way to ensure China's resource security, and developing a circular economy is a vital way to achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality," said Zhao Kai, executive vice-president of the China Association of the Circular Economy.
He suggested that China promote the circular development of industrial parks, strengthen the comprehensive utilization of bulk solid waste, improve the resource recycling system, and advance the reduction and recycling of domestic waste.