Waste is overflowing Chinese landfills and the rapid build-out of incinerators designed to burn half of the waste mountains will not solve the problem. Since 2019, waste management has been President Xi Jinping’s newest target in China’s war on pollution. China has launched waste collection and sorting pilots in 46 cities to help increase recycling, issued a national ban of certain single-use plastics, and required e-commerce and e-delivery companies to collect data on their plastic waste generation. Yet without transparent data on how much, where, and what types of plastics have been collected, even well-performing cities, like Shanghai and Suzhou, have been unable to develop steady supply chains to provide sorted plastic waste to companies that need it.
To fill the data gap needed to close the loop on plastic waste, the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Vanke Foundation initiated the Waste Map Project. The project’s app not only helps residents find the nearest collection and recycling stations, but also enables cities and companies to post information on their waste generation. The data guides waste management investments and strengthens waste markets so that more plastics get recycled. On the waste reduction front, a growing number of Chinese NGOs are engaging in campaigns to persuade corporate actors to decrease plastic packaging.
At this meeting Ma Jun, founder of IPE and a Wilson Center Global Fellow, will introduce how the waste database on IPE’s Blue Map App is helping citizens locate collection points, local governments track their waste collection performance, and companies identify plastic resources. Mao Da, founder of the China Zero Waste Alliance, will discuss innovative corporate and policy campaigns led by Alliance members to reduce plastic waste from e-commerce and food delivery.
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