China’s drive to develop a more ecologically considerate manufacturing industry has been gaining momentum since an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) implementation plan was unveiled in late 2016. As part of its supply-side structural reforms and upgrading of manufacturing processes, the State Council will now require manufacturers to be responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product. It will take product design, circulation consumption, recycling and waste disposal into account for the first time.
The EPR plan is first taking aim at a handful of industries – electronics, automobiles, lead acid batteries and packaging products such as paper-based composite beverage cups, with a set of 20 major tasks to complete.
Almost 18 months after its publication, the first steps of the 20-point plan are reaching completion. Several pilot programs, such as a new system for the recycling of waste electronics in Beijing, and of lead acid batteries in Shanghai, were launched in 2017. It was also scheduled that by the year-end, a coding system and full lifecycle traceability system for electric vehicle batteries would be created.
Moving into this year, the government intends to establish a list of products and packaging materials for compulsory recycling, while determining a national target for some specific products and materials. It will also elaborate on regulations to support the promotion of renewable products and materials.
As for 2019 and onwards, the government will seek to build a credit information collection system in order to extend the responsibility of producers. Meanwhile, it will formulate management measures and corresponding policy guidelines, and implement a green purchasing goal management system.It is expected that, by 2020, a framework for the EPR policy will be taking shape, and relevant laws and regulations should be finalised by 2025.
The State Council hopes that the EPR plan will provide a major shakeup to the way China’s manufacturers approach environmental responsibility. Producers will be allowed to employ the services of specialist companies to recycle their materials, but any business not in line with EPR regulations can expect to be punished, as the government seeks to whip up enthusiasm for green methods among manufacturers and the public alike. The goal? It is anticipated that 50% of waste products will be recycled and reused, and the proportion of recycled materials in key products will reach 20% by 2025.
Written by Cameron Atkinson