China’s Circular Economy Plans for 2015

by China Water Risk 14 April, 2015

14 April 2015, NDRC issued the Circular Economy Promotion Plan for 2015. The document details actions and targets to use resources (water, metals, land and coal) more efficiently and to better manage resources & waste in industry, agriculture and cities.

This move to a circular economy includes breaking down the Three Red Lines targets to city, county and provincial levels. The plan also entails updating water use quotas for industrial output and the service sector.

Below are more highlights and key changes from the plan:


Industry will need to review its production & supply chains and rethink how to use resources in a more sustainable manner as old methods will not be applicable in the future. The plan is promoting:

  • Waste recycling and reuse by both municipal and industry
    • Focus area: Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei
  • Circular transformation of industrial parks
    • Carry out around 25 Circular Industrial Parks pilots
    • 50% of national industrial parks and 30% of regional industrial parks should achieve circular transformation targets
    • Focus area: Yangtze & Pearl River Delta regions
  • Green mining
    • Generate power from low-concentration methane and coal gangue
    • Increase use of coal mine water & coal-bed methane (see our article on coalmine water reuse here)
  • Biomass development
    • 1GW of biomass cogeneration installed by the end of 2015 in major crop production areas
    • Target of 120 large-scale advanced biomass boilers spread amongst Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong and Yangtze & Pearl River Delta regions
  • Revise clean production evaluation systems in key industries such as power, paper & pulp and solar PV


To focus of the plan is to reduce the sector’s water demand and to reduce pollution. Key areas are:

  • Increase irrigation efficiency to 0.53
  • Promote rain fed agriculture techniques, improve soil water storage and water retention capacity
  • Increase fertilizer use efficiency by 1% by the end of 2015
  • Promote the use of low-toxicity, low-residue pesticides and organic fertilizer
  • Further convert agricultural and forestry waste into resources. By the end of 2015, the utilization rate of straw should reach 80%

Other targets

  • Encourage bank and financial institutions to increase credit support for circular economy
  • Increase use of IT for data collection and to monitor flow rates
  • Develop water efficiency labelling
  • Upgrade water pipelines over 50 years old and any pipes with outdated materials (on top of water losses, old water pipes are often sources of water contamination as explained in our Safe Drinking Water report)
  • Install heat metering and improve energy efficiency of district heating (150 million m2 targeted in Northern regions)