Construction of waste-free city underway

Hu Min
A disposable paper cup that is easy to recycle was a popular exhibit at the International Carbon Neutral Technology, Products and Achievements Expo.
Hu Min
Construction of waste-free city underway
Ti Gong

The launch of the initiative for the promotion of the application of green circular products.

A disposable paper cup with water-based barrier coatings that is easy to recycle was a popular exhibit at the 2024 Shanghai International Carbon Neutral Technology, Products and Achievements Expo.

In Shanghai, about 1.5 million paper cups are used every year, with the majority hard to be recycled and degraded due to polyethylene coatings.

The interest reflected widespread attention to the recycling of waste, and the recyclable economy, a focus of the circular economy parallel forum of the expo held on Friday.

This forum attracted some 150 attendees from government authorities, enterprises, and scientific research institutes.

On June 5, Shanghai Regulations on the Construction of a Waste Free City, the first of its kind in China, was implemented.

This requires the establishment of a full industry chain management system to achieve the traceability of solid waste classification and recycling, promote the reuse of solid waste from the source and zero landfill.

Construction of waste-free city underway
Ti Gong

A round-table discussion.

"Low-value recyclable items represented by waste paper packages, plastic meal boxes and fabrics, are an important part of circular economy," said Jia Yanpeng, associate researcher of the Institute of Economic System and Management of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"However, confronting problems such as high collection and recycling costs and low recycling rates, they have become a weak point in the construction of a recycling system for waste resources."

Low value recyclable items generated every year in China amount to 95 million tons, with plastic packages, glass and fabrics topping the list.

"There are quite a number of problems in their collection such as lack of recycling and utilization system, poor sorting performance and insufficient facilities," said Jia. "Thus, a tiered recycling mode should be established based on the types and sources of different low-value recyclable items with the collection enthusiasm of the market triggered."

Guan Yisong, chief representative of the Beijing office of Ellen MacArthur Foundation based in the United Kingdom, shared a number of figures based on carbon emission reduction in construction garbage, shared transportation, and plastics management fields.

"An elimination wave of wind and solar power generation equipment is due in China, and six million tons of fan blades are estimated to be eliminated by 2040," said Guan.

"If these scrapped equipments are not properly handled, new environmental problems such as water pollution and soil degradation will be triggered, therefore, a retirement and recycling mechanism on these equipment should be established as soon as possible."

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