Our Head of Environmental Policy and Economics, Dr Chris Sherrington, was commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)’s China Programme to speak as part of an exchange of expertise on the design of policies to improve the management of plastics and microplastics. The exchange, which took place in the first week of December 2018, was organised jointly by the EMF and the British Embassy in Beijing.

Chris spoke at a series of events across China, discussing the key topics of plastics management and tackling marine plastic pollution. He was joined in representing the UK by Deborah Sacks from the Department for International Trade and the Marine Conservation Society’s Laura Foster.

Plastics Expertise China

The UK contingent met in Beijing with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Development and Reform Commission. Chris presented the findings of our recent research for the European Commission on microplastics, highlighting the policies that we recommended and explaining how these approaches could be transferred to China. He also discussed our work on the EU’s Single-use Plastics Directive, describing the measures that will be applied to specific items, including product restrictions (i.e. bans), requirements to reduce consumption, and, for certain items, covering the costs of litter clean up.

Chris then travelled to Guangzhou to take part in the UK-China (Guangdong) Symposium on Marine Plastic Pollution and Control, which focused on preventing the flow of plastic from rivers to the sea. Chris shared his expertise on the pathways marine litter takes, and presented our ‘Plastics in the Marine Environment’ infographic which identifies the main sources of marine litter. Chris was also able to Plastics Expertise Chinashare our #CleanRiversCleanerSeas campaign, which concluded with a panel debate from leading UK marine plastics campaigners Hugo Tagholm and Martin Dorey.

One of Chris’ main contributions to this discussion centred around our world-leading research into deposit return systems, which not only significantly reduce littering, but also ensure that the material being collected for recycling is of high quality, enabling closed loop (bottle to bottle) recycling.

Chris then took part in the UK-China (Shandong) Plastic Pollution Prevention and Control Workshop in Jinan, where he discussed the issues around agricultural films and the problems biodegradable plastics can cause for waste management systems.

Dame Barbara Woodward, the UK Ambassador to China in Beijing, said:

Really pleased that earlier this month, with support from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UK experts from Department for International Trade, Eunomia – a renowned environmental consultancy firm, the Marine Conservation Society, collaborated with our Chinese partners in Beijing, Guangdong and Shandong to initiate the first of what we hope will be a series of discussions on and cooperation to tackling plastics pollution. Please keep doing all you can in 2019!”

Plastics Expertise China