China and the European Union have jointly expressed their commitment to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Circular Economy at the 20th EU-China Summit taking place today and tomorrow in Beijing. Both governments stand to gain from aligning on policies that support the transition to a circular economy, which can unlock new sources of economic growth and innovation while benefiting people and the environment, for example by reducing pollution and congestion.
“China has long been a pioneer of circular economy policies and practices, and Chinese cities are hubs of circular economy innovation,” Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) said in a statement. “Transition to a circular economy presents China’s cities with significant opportunities to create new value, economic growth, and further drive that innovation, while becoming more liveable for citizens. Collaboration and sharing of knowledge and best practices are key to unlocking these opportunities. Closer alignment on the circular economy between China and the EU is a significant step, paving the way for a global shift towards an economic system that works for business, people and the environment.”
China has been a frontrunner on circular economy policy for more than two decades, with President Xi reaffirming its commitment at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year. In Europe, the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, launched by the European Commission in 2015, established an ambitious program of action and a timeline for its delivery.
The economic benefits of transition to a circular economy in Europe have been well-documented: A 2015 EMF report found that transition to a circular economy could add €0.9 trillion to Europe’s GDP by 2030 — along with societal benefits including an average increase of €3,000 a year in household income, a reduction in the cost of time lost to congestion by 16 percent, and a halving of carbon dioxide emissions compared with current levels.