China Hub

Supporting sustainable economic development through circular solutions

About the China Hub

ICLEI works with stakeholders in China to facilitate circular development by fostering industrial symbiosis, piloting zero-waste cities, and shifting the traditional production and consumption model towards sustainability. Learn more about leading cities, partners and initiatives in this Hub.

Priorities of the China Hub

  • Unlock the potential of industrial symbiosis

    The government of China set a target that 75 percent of the state-initiated industrial parks and 50 percent of the province-initiated industrial parks will apply industrial symbiosis practices before 2020. The traditional linear production pattern generates pollution as well as socio-economic instability. Symbiosis practices in industrial parks are implemented to prevent and reduce pollution in the air, water and soil as well as to repair and harmonize the relations between industry and residents. As of 2020, 129 industrial parks have been supported by the government to redesign material flows and pipelines for waste-to-resources.

    ICLEI East Asia has observed that the lack of innovation and technical solutions in industrial parks result in resource inefficiency, and more incentives are needed to trigger the secondary material market. ICLEI will collaborate with local governments to scale up implementation of industrial symbiosis practices, and ICLEI will support stakeholders to overcome obstacles regarding governance, skills and capacities, and bankability.

  • Build local capacity and awareness to realize zero-waste society

    Since 2019, China has undergone a transition towards a zero-waste future. National and subnational governments have taken the initiative to select 16 zero-waste pilot cities with the aim of scaling this initiative up to include other cities by 2021. Pilot cities are establishing waste management schemes, setting up reverse supply chain systems, and adopting waste tracking and  monitoring systems. Each pilot city can develop and implement a specific local action plan focusing on their priorities from these five areas: industrial waste, agricultural waste, general waste and lifestyle, construction and demolition waste, and hazardous waste.

    There is a need to strengthen the regulatory framework and local capacity in particular regarding inspection and monitoring. In addition, the unsustainable and linear lifestyle that currently dominates society has been one of the significant obstacles in realizing a zero-waste vision. ICLEI will support local governments to overcome these challenges.

  • Nudge businesses to be more circular

    Construction and logistics businesses are frontrunners in the circular journey. Since 2018, 35 piloting cities have explored solutions with construction companies to incorporate circular economy principles into their operations. For example, e-commerce and logistics businesses are working alongside local governments to adopt guidance that reduces the environmental impacts of packaging lifecycles. Together, local governments and companies can build partnerships to set up re-use sites to better collect and re-utilize packaging materials.

    Other businesses are moving towards circularity by implementing cleaner chemical production, promoting e-mobility and focusing on circular approaches in food production.  ICLEI is working with local governments and stakeholders to create an enabling environment for businesses to implement circular innovations in order to facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

China’s Leading Circular Cities

ICLEI’s work in China is highly connected to the thematic offerings of the Green Circular Cities Coalition, which are designed based on the urgent and emerging needs of cities. Currently, we engage with cities mainly on the topics industrial symbiosis, public procurement, municipal resource management and food systems.



Changchun is an ICLEI and GCCC member. The city has designated a 10-square-kilometer circular economy industrial park to boost its circularity. Given that automotive manufacturing is the main industry, Changchun has the ambition to unlock the potential of end-of-life vehicles and keep the materials in use. The park will have incineration, food waste treatment facilities, medical waste treatment facilities, and car dismantling facilities. The city has invested to reallocate a thermal power station from another site to this industrial park, in order to maximally utilize material streams and resources. It is expected that the industrial park will attract further innovative circular economy investment. The GCCC is supporting Changchun to introduce a benchmarking practice into the city’s planning.



Chengdu is a strong advocate of its Park City initiative that mainstreams nature into the city’s urban planning processes. Under the Sino-German Urbanization Partnership, ICLEI works with Chengdu and Dortmund in German to foster exchange on how nature-based solutions play a role in urban regeneration. Chengdu also released its decarbonization strategy in 2020, which highlights low-carbon lifestyles and consumption at a citizen level as an important means to achieve the goal. The city focuses on incentives and a transparent approach, and is working with ICLEI on food circularity in a local ecotourism area.



Datong is a coal-centric city. The city government has been promoting the reuse of industrial waste by introducing “Bulk Solid Waste Base” projects that encourage cooperation between the coal industry and the chemical, power and steel industries through industrial symbiosis. While the base provides a modality in resource circularity, the city needs further support in connecting to innovative technical solutions compared to conventional end-of-life approaches. Datong joined the GCCC in 2019 with the aim to learn more about green growth, especially from peer cities having gone through the coal-transition phase.



With the support of ICLEI through the 10YFP Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement (10YFP SPP) framework, Guangming District of Shenzhen in Southern China has implemented a green procurement plan.,The AC procurement of the Guangming Cultural and Arts Center was selected to apply greener tender criteria. The procurement criterion are expected to yield up to 48% electricity bill cut and 14% carbon emission reduction through balancing energy demand between peak and off peak hours and using an air conditioning system with higher coefficient of performance (COP). Apart from the work on green public procurement (GPP), Shenzhen is also working towards a more circular food system and is learning from best practices in the  region to tackle the challenge of food waste management.

Hong Kong


Food waste is an urgent problem in Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. ICLEI supports Hong Kong’s food waste policy making processes by arranging peer learning and consulting with the City of Seoul 2019. Hong Kong became an ICLEI Member in 2020 and is participating in ICLEI’s circular food system research plan for East Asian cities.



Through the 10YFP SPP framework, Binhai New Area of Tianjin successfully established a green evaluation scorecard for school furniture procurement in 2018 with the support of ICLEI. This ambitious procurement system which utilizes green supply chain management principles has won a Binhai national honor – the 2018 China Government Procurement Innovation of the Year Award.

  • The Green Circular Cities Coalition

    The Green Circular Cities Coalition aims to support East Asian and European cities to facilitate urban circular economy transitions and become leading green circular cities by 

    – setting up a collaboration platform to connect cities, partners and relevant stakeholders;
    – fostering in-depth city peer learning and knowledge exchange on policies and solutions;
    – enhancing local governments’ capacity in mainstreaming circular principles in policy making;
    – providing toolkits and technical assistance to local governments in action planning;
    – studying good city practices and disseminate the cases and experience for scaling up;
    – raising local ambition in achieving sustainable development goals through a circular approach.

    Operated by the ICLEI East Asia Secretariat since 2019, with support from other ICLEI Offices, the Coalition currently has endorsement from 6 cities (Bonn, Changchun, Datong, Nagano Prefecture, Turku, and Yokohama) and a number of knowledge partners, including Circle Economy, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and TOMRA. Thematic working areas include circular public procurement, industrial symbiosis, municipal resource management, building and construction, spatial planning and governance, as well as the water-food-energy nexus.

    The Coalition is open to local and subnational governments, and partners committed to empowering and accelerating transitions towards a sustainable and circular future. More info: