Exploring Plastic-Management Policy in China: Status, Challenges and Policy Insights

In Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 15 (11)
Peer-reviewed Article

Plastic pollution is recognized as one of the most urgent global environmental concerns. China is the top producer and consumer of plastics and creates the most plastic waste globally. To evaluate policy options to control plastic pollution in China, we first reviewed the relevant policies and action plans in place. Then, we examined plastic-material flows and changes at the national level based on officially published data to evaluate the current situation and efficacy of policies at the macro-level. Results showed that 2016, the start of the 13th Five-Year Plan, was a pivotal year in the history of China’s plastic policies tackling plastic issues nationally and internationally. Since 2016, the growth trend in the production and consumption of plastic products has slowed and the recycling rate has risen, surpassing 30% in 2021. To further tackle plastic pollution, key suggestions with important policy implications were provided, covering better integration of policies, the combined management of vertical–horizontal governance, tracking-system implementation, the introduction of a quality-certification system, the development of behaviour-based consumer-oriented solutions, the promotion of stakeholder collaboration, and the need for appropriate post-COVID-19 policies.