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Environment and circular economy transition in China

Waste to Resource: upgrading the value chain of packaging waste through improving collection and recycling in China

With the rapid development of China’s economy, packaging production and consumption are booming, which leads to increasing environmental pollution and carbon emissions. The rapid growth of e-commerce and the surge in online shopping triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increasing amount of waste. However, most of the packaging waste not being recycled effectively.

Statistics shows that in 2019, China had about 63 million tons of waste plastics being disposed, of which only 18.9 million tons, or 30%, were recycled and reused. And in 2018, the overall recycling rate of waste plastics was 27%. Even those packaging wastes being collected are not re-utilized but incinerated. The linear system of packaging sector leads to high greenhouse gas emissions, and plastic recycling is said to r (according to statics and report from plastic recyclers).


The recycling value chain of packaging waste in China is improved by advanced waste segregation and collection models.


With its focus on packaging waste, especially PET bottle, paper-based beverage container, flexible package, delivery package as well as non-PET container (i.e. HDPE bottle within the scope of project), Waste to Resource Project (hereafter refer to as “WtR Project”) enables the upgrading of package waste recycling chain by means of:

1) Piloting advanced waste recycling models for different packaging wastes including:    

  • upgrading waste segregation at source system in various scenarios
  • exploring high value-added recycling approaches
  • encouraging plastic-replacement solutions and waste reduction

2) Influencing the sectors with best demonstration practices and advanced circular economy actions, including the exploring of eco-design and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in packaging sector in China.

3) capacity building to sectoral stakeholders and awareness raising to the public.

4) establishing and facilitating stakeholders’ exchanges among the packaging waste value chain.

Expected Outputs

Based on the best practices from WtR Project, the pilot is to be implemented and a digital platform is to be established, a series of analysis and report will be provided to identify gaps and barriers, and improve the value chain of China’s packaging waste management. The above-mentioned components will be reinforced through capacity building and awareness raising activities. Through these measures, we expect to increase the recycling rate of packaging waste to 50% in China.

Commissioned by

IMplemented by

In cooperation with


project director

Dr. Qian Mingyu
Team Leader

Waste to Resource: upgrading the value chain of packaging waste through improving collection and recycling in China