Germany and China want to exchange ideas more intensively over the next five years about the more sustainable use of certain materials. Parallel to the visit to China by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) signed a so-called action plan for a German-Chinese dialogue on circular economy and resource efficiency in Beijing on Tuesday. On the Chinese side, the National Development and Reform Commission countersigned the document.

According to the Federal Environment Ministry, the plan stipulates that Germany and China will exchange ideas, for example, about the recycling and better use of plastics or metals along the entire value chain. Both sides want to pay particular attention to the areas of packaging, construction, vehicles and batteries, which sometimes make a significant contribution to economic performance in China. “Longer-lasting products and better recycling help to avoid waste, reduce emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases and protect nature,” said Lemke, according to the statement.

We also want to talk about ways in which the state could politically implement circular economy measures and support them with money. One topic here is environmental labels or eco-design criteria, i.e. how products can be designed so that they have less of an impact on the environment.

The Lemke Ministry is only at the beginning of the dialogue, although both countries have been exchanging ideas through the German-Chinese environmental forum since 2003. The action plan does not require either side to provide money, personnel or services and is not legally binding.

China has achieved considerable economic growth since opening up in the late 1970s. Issues such as environmental protection were long neglected in favor of high growth rates. However, with its around 1.4 billion inhabitants, China is crucial in the area of ​​circular economy and resource use, because even small changes can have a significant impact given the size of the country. The German side hopes that China will set more ambitious environmental goals when it comes to plastic use, for example.