China’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2060. The country has implemented new policies to be more environmentally sustainable and advocates to its citizens the importance of conservation

For example, China is testing out a zero waste program. But first, what is zero waste?

Zero waste is using resources effectively, by recycling and reusing, without negatively harming the environment. Read all the different definitions of zero waste on Zero Waste International Alliance.

So what does China’s new zero waste policy look like?

Government Policies


A teacher teaching students how to recycle

In 2019, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment launched their first zero waste program (无废城市 Wú fèi chéngshì). The Ministry chose 11 cities to serve as a model, including Shenzhen, Sanya and Shanghai. 

The Ministry’s goal was to recycle 35 percent of waste by 2020. In 2020, Shenzhen reached 40.5 percent. Hainan began banning single-use plastics in 2020 and hopes to completely ban them before 2025.

To encourage and teach residents to recycle, Shanghai uses video games, songs and even Peppa Pig. The city also fines violators, using facial recognition to identify them. 

But some view the use of security cameras to monitor citizens as an invasion of privacy. Critics worry that the government will abuse the use of cameras to constantly surveil citizens. 

China’s First Zero Waste Store: The Bulk House


Interior of the Bulk House

The Bulk House opened its doors in Beijing in 2018. It encouraged people to be more conscientious of their habits and their impact on the environment. While the Bulk House closed its physical store in 2019, their efforts are not forgotten. 

People came to the Bulk House to refill cleaning detergents and soaps, trade items and purchase reusable items. 

The Bulk House now has a website where you can purchase items. Their packing tape is biodegradable, they don’t ship plastic and they recycle boxes to ship packages. T

hey even have international shipping. But I would advise purchasing from a zero waste company in your own country, like the Zero Waste Store and Package Free in the U.S.

Holding Businesses Accountable

eLearning Industry

For some companies, becoming more sustainable and environmentally conscious is costly and difficult. But many companies would rather bear the burden than fines.

In response, companies like Zero Waste Shanghai have opened. They train and offer consulting to businesses on how to be more sustainable. 

Together they find ways to improve waste management and disposal, among other things. This is both great for the environment and the business. 

The Chinese government’s policies and the social trends are all positive steps towards sustainability. While China hasn’t met all of its goals, its actions and results can serve as a model for other countries. 

Have you heard of zero-waste? What swaps have you made in your life to be more eco-conscious? 

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Vivien Cheng

Vivien Cheng is a student pursuing a B.A. in Mandarin and a minor in international relations. She hopes to aid in policy-making.
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