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Environment and circular economy transition in China


Driven by rapid urbanization, economic development and changing consumption and production patterns, the amount of single-use plastic is rapidly increasing worldwide. At the same time, waste management systems still lack effectiveness in terms of environmentally sound collection, sorting, recycling, energy recovery and disposal of packaging waste. Estimates based on 2010 data suggest that worldwide 5 to 13 million tons of plastic waste find their way into the oceans every year, of which much comes from single-use plastic products and packaging. The plastic waste affects over 800 species in marine and coastal environments.

In 2018, the European Commission presented an ambitious European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which envisages that by 2030 all plastics packaging placed on the EU market will be either reusable or recyclable. In recent years, the EU successively adopted the new Directive on Reducing the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment and the New Circular Economy Action Plan supporting a transition towards circular economy.

In 2020, China has issued the Opinion on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Pollution and the Notice on Comprehensively Promote the Plastic Pollution Control to reduce the production, sale and use of certain single-use plastic products.


The project supports a transition towards sustainable consumption and production of plastic in East and Southeast Asia to contribute to a significant reduction of marine litter. It thereby contributes to strengthening EU cooperation with countries in the region in the areas of circular economy, plastic waste and marine litter reduction.


  • Policy dialogues between the EU and partner countries concerning plastic production and management
  • Plastic waste management, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return schemes (DRS) for packaging and plastic products, following the waste hierarchy
  • Sustainable consumption and production of plastic
  • Reduction of litter from sea-based sources
  • Awareness raising on sustainable consumption and production of plastic and the impacts of littering on the environment


  • Pilot study on establishing waste collection system of single-use plastic packaging in Xiamen
  • Innovate mulch film collection mechanism in Kailu County, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • Source reduction and reusables of plastic packaging in online express delivery in Haikou
  • Application of reusable and shareable Standardized Integration Containers (SIC) in Qingdao
  • Reduce marine plastic litter by fishing-for-litter scheme in Hainan Province
  • Ship waste management in Chinese commercial ports (Tianjin Port and Shanghai Port)

Commissioned by

german cooperation

Implemented by


LIU Xiao

Dr. Liu Xiao
Project Manager

Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH