Municipal solid waste available to the Chinese energy sector – Provincial projections to 2050

Sara Shapiro-Bengtsen*, Frits Møller Andersen, Marie Münster, Lele Zou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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A shift is underway in China, from perceiving municipal solid waste (MSW) as a strictly environmental concern to identifying MSW as a resource. China exhibits a growing focus on using MSW in the energy sector while putting more emphasis on waste sorting and recycling in general and sorting food waste in particular. Timely planning of MSW treatment capacity requires reliable forecasts of future MSW quantities and their characteristics. This article uses econometric analysis to perform regional specific projections for collected MSW. Four scenarios are presented, three of which include sorting of food waste from the mixed MSW stream and/or capping mixed MSW generation. In the different scenarios, aggregated on a national level, mixed MSW ranges from 159 million metric tons (MMT) to 340 MMT and sorted food waste from MSW from zero to 109 MMT in 2050. Conclusions show that sorting of food waste will create stable levels of mixed MSW in many provinces and that there is a risk of overinvestments in MSW incineration capacity in most provinces.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)52-65
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • China
  • Econometric modelling
  • Food waste
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Projections
  • Scenarios


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