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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 13:17 GMT
World Without Waste
First broadcast November 2005

One Planet presents a major four-part series exploring a world without waste. We will visit four countries working hard to achieve the much-heralded goal of 'zero waste'.

Achieving 'zero waste', or coming even close to it, is an ambitious concept that attempts to reduce garbage and increase recycling rates whilst at the same time, encourage societies to adopt more ecologically sustainable practices which produce less waste to begin with.

Part Four: China

China is the industrial success story of the last decade and looks set to continue for years to come.

Unfortunately it's also likely to be the Earth's leading ecological villain unless its scientists can find a solution to waste and pollution.

With coal and natural gas consumption rising fast, China is pinning its hopes of developing greener, cleaner technology.

A lot of money is going into reducing pollution - especially from coal-fired power stations and cars.

The government also recently announced ambitious targets for renewable energy production - mainly from wind, solar and biogas.

Recycling waste water is also a key part of the plan, as the country's industrialisation puts a strain on water supplies.

But it's the lack of a co-ordinated policy over solid waste which most worries environmentalists.

Even in Beijing, recycling is practically non-existent and the country is still importing mountains of plastic, paper and potentially toxic electronic waste from the West.

As Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Scientists and campaigners believe this may be the best opportunity to turn China's environmental record around and create a lasting commitment to the environment which rapid economic development has so far largely ignored.

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