China’s new Circular Economy law

New skyscrapers in ShanghaiPulling itself along a bootstrapped rush to modernize, China consumes about eleven times the energy to produce a dollar’s worth of gross domestic product as Japan and five times that of the United States.

This is the type of calculation that supports the theory that its struggle to develop will prolong China’s economic impact on the United States and Europe.

But others, such as Daniel Hannan at The Telegraph, see a polar switch where China quickly changes places with wealthy western players to resume its millennial privilege on top. Visiting while Shanghai seems to burst in activity, he worries that while we squabble between ourselves and thump the world’s discontents, a dynamic and inevitable giant may challenge what we think we know about industry and geopolitics. A Polish lawmaker has said, “The world we know is finished. Our children will be their slaves”.

To move toward increased efficiency and sustainability, the economic planners of China are announcing a 2008 law to force a “circular economy”. More than aggressive bargaining and global reach, China seems to be asserting an industrial ecology that will consider the ‘flow of material and energy and not just the money’. [link via lunch over ip]

Along with resource efficiency, the new law would require evaluation of the environmental friendliness of products before they enter the market. Supervising resources, engineering the disposal of waste, and setting up an accountability system for manufacturers will help “produce the maximum amount of products with the minimum resources.” [story, via]

China’s 11th Five-Year Program requires low energy consumption and high efficiency, low emissions of pollutants, and minimal waste discharge, using the “3-R” principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, wants an effective green economy.

The National People’s Congress has mapped out a plan to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent and its main pollutants by 10 per cent while still maintaining an average of 7.5 per cent in GDP growth. [china daily]

More than ten provinces and municipalities have regulations on the circular economy. [people’s daily]

Worldwatch reports that this is no breakthrough. “It is very hard to see the necessity to draft a new law. Many articles in the draft are very hard to put into practice in China, like asking producers to collect and recycle packing materials. Furthermore, the draft does not include clear and tough punishment for those who violate the rules of the circular economy.”

Environmental Friendliness:
It’s New but Is It Good? New Product Development and Macromarketing,
Journal of Macromarketing [Abstract]

Links at Green3 with interesting and useful information on environmental friendliness for business managers.

Ecolabelling, where producers supply the characteristics of a commodity to the public with the aim at furthering environmental objectives and its impacts on trade and economy. University of Toronto.

Korea’s Environmental Declaration of Products – environmental-friendliness of products evaluated through Life Cycle Assessment.

Japan’s promotion of the 3Rs to further efficiency in the use of resources and energy, to integrate the reutilization and recycling of goods, and to reconsider wasteful lifestyles and customs in order to allow sound development of the economy of a new society with a reduced environmental load.

USA Federal Trade Commission’s “Guidelines for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims”, for the guidance of the public in conducting its affairs in conformity with legal requirements in labeling, advertising, promotional materials and all other forms of marketing, whether asserted directly or by implication, through words, symbols, emblems, logos, depictions, product brand names, or through any other means, including marketing through digital or electronic means, such as the Internet or electronic mail.

Everybody should have an “energy budget”, and all through the year — taking into account all energy sources, the production of goods and all activities — a person should ideally consume only 2000 Watts (the equivalent of twenty 100-Watts lightbulbs that are on 24/7).

Today, like most Europeans, a Swiss consumes on average 6500 W (about 3000 from fossil fuels, 2000 from renewables, mostly hydroelectric, and the rest imported from abroad) — Americans use some 12000 per head. – Alexander Zehnder, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology