SHANGHAI - Seventy percent of renewable resources in 55 cities are being collected for recycling, up from the 40 percent in 2006.
The increase is due to a national pilot program aimed at promoting a circular economy, said Jiang Zengwei, the vice-minister of commerce.
A worker processes disused TV sets at a resource recycling industrial park in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province. The park is able to recycle 30,000 tons of discarded electronic appliances every year, including washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners. [File photo by Xinhua]
He added that the program will be extended to an additional 10 cities this year.
Under the project, 1.75 billion yuan ($267 million) has been invested in the establishment of 33,000 community waste recovery sites, 181 sorting centers and 36 large regional terminal markets for the recovery of renewable resources.
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that the program has helped China make substantial progress in the recovery of recyclable resources, such as waste paper and glass. About 140 million tons of renewable resources was processed in 2009, which translated into 500 billion yuan in value, double the amount in 2006.
The program has also triggered the development of a large number of waste recovery companies, estimated to total around 100,000, which provide jobs for 18 million people, said Jiang.
"Promoting the recovery and recycling of renewable resources is caused by the needs of our economic development and industrial restructuring as well as the building of an environmentally friendly society," said Jiang.
"As a country with such a large population and so few resources, we have no other way but to save what we have by promoting waste recovery and recycling."
Jiang said the government will develop favorable policies, including tax cuts or even exemption, to encourage industrial development of the sector, which yields comparatively lower profit margins than other industries but serves the public good.
He also said China needs to improve its legal system in the sector in order to support its development.
"We still have a lot to do in the area ... More waste is being produced nowadays with the rising living standards and faster speed of product replenishment. Our recovery networks and services have apparently lagged behind," he said, adding that raising public awareness is also vital to the success of waste recovery and recycling.
Jiang also warned that the central government's financial support for the pilot cities will be revoked if they are found to have failed in their implementation of the program or have embezzled funds designated for it.
He said, by the end of the period of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), a national recovery network for renewable resources will have been set up with 70 percent of such resources recovered nationwide.
Zhang Xinsheng, deputy director of the Shanghai municipal commission of commerce, said the city, which is a national leader in waste recovery and recycling, collected 7.2 million tons of renewable resources in 2010, up by 24 percent on the previous year.
"We've also introduced new means of waste recovery such as online and hotline collection, which means residents can have their requests for waste collection heard with a click of the mouse or just a phone call," he said.