Barriers to compulsory waste sorting for a circular economy in China



Zhang A, Xie S, Gong Y, Li C & Liu Y (2023) Barriers to compulsory waste sorting for a circular economy in China. Journal of Environmental Management, 342, Art. No.: 118180.

Household waste source separation substantially reduces the amount of rubbish sent to landfills and incinerators. It enables value recovery from useful waste for transitioning to a more resource efficient and circular economy. Confronted by the severe waste management problems, China recently implemented its most strict compulsory waste sorting program in big cities to date. Despite the failures of waste sorting projects in China in the past, it is unclear what the implementation barriers are, how they interact, and how they can be overcome. This study addresses this knowledge gap through a systematic barrier study involving all the relevant stakeholders in Shanghai and Beijing. It uncovers the complex interrelationships between barriers using the fuzzy decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory (Fuzzy DEMATEL) method. “Hasty and inappropriate planning” and “lack of policy support at the grassroots level”, two new barriers that are not reported in the literature, are found to be the most influential barriers. Policy implications are discussed based on the study findings to inform the policy deliberations on the implementation of compulsory waste sorting.

Circular economy; Waste sorting; Household waste management; Municipal waste management; Barrier; China

Journal of Environmental Management: Volume 342

FundersThe British Academy
Publication date30/09/2023
Publication date online17/05/2023
Date accepted by journal13/05/2023
PublisherElsevier BV