Huang, Qiao; Chen, Guangwu; Wang, Yafei*; Xu, Lixiao; Chen, Wei-Qiang*

Science of The Total Environment 2020 725, 138137. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138137


Solid waste recycling is crucial for easing China's resource constraints and for promoting the country's sustainable economic development. Previous studies regarding solid waste recycling have mainly assessed its economic value, the status quo, problems and challenges, however, little is known at this stage about its driving factors. The purpose of the current study is to identify the socioeconomic drivers of solid waste recycling, investigating it's evolution in China from 2005 to 2017. The study employs a systematic technique of input-output (IO) analysis and IO-based structural decomposition analysis (IO-SDA). Results reveal that China experienced an increase in the recycling of five types of solid waste, these include waste steel, waste nonferrous metals, waste plastics, waste paper and waste rubber for the period 2005–2017. The increase in solid waste recycling was driven mainly by fixed capital formation and exports, while urban household consumption was found to be a dominant driver due to China's increasing urban population. In order to better track and identify the recycling of solid waste, there is an urgent need to promote the classification of household solid waste at the national level. An increase of solid waste recycling was driven mainly by the growth of recycling intensity, population increase and changes in the structure of GDP, which was partly offset by per capita GDP changes. It is recommended that policy-makers increase the amount of investment in solid waste recycling capacity in rural areas so as to enhance recycling intensity contributing to the overall recycling effort.

Graphic Abstract.
Breakdown of the five solid-waste recycling drivers by sectoral main final demands for 2005–2017.
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