International Experience and Enlightenment of "No Waste City" Construction

Jun 29,2021

Source: China Environment News

Guide: In January 2019, the General Office of the State Council issued the "Working Plan for the Pilot Construction of a "Waste-Free City"." What foreign experience in building a "waste-free city" can be used for reference?

With the development of the economy and society and the improvement of waste management systems, the establishment of waste-free cities has become the planning goal of more and more countries and cities. The international community has established the No-Waste International Alliance, European countries established the No-Waste Europe Network, and Japan. Organizations such as the Non-Waste Research Institute. The 2015 U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a resolution supporting the principle of no waste in cities. In 2018, 23 cities around the world jointly issued a declaration on the establishment of a waste-free city. Eight cities including San Francisco in the United States, Vancouver in Canada, Kamikatsu in Japan, Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, Capannoris in Italy, Sydney in Australia, Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Auckland in New Zealand have clearly proposed the construction of waste-free cities. . Its construction effectiveness has been recognized by the international community. The experience of countries in different regions of the world in promoting the construction of waste-free cities has provided our country with valuable experience.

1. Clarify the definition and specific goals of "Waste Free City" and the types of waste included in "Waste Free"

There is no uniform international definition of a non-waste city. Most cities follow the definition of the Non-Waste International Alliance, that is, through responsible production, consumption, and recycling, all waste is reused, and there is no waste incineration, landfill, or disposal. To open garbage dumps and the ocean, so as not to endanger the environment and human health, from the perspective of final disposal, the core of this definition is that there is no waste incineration and landfill. San Francisco is the city of Vancouver, Kamikatsu Town, and Oakland that use this definition. Some cities define non-waste cities as no waste to be landfilled, such as Masdar City, Capannoris, Sydney and other cities, Lubl The waste-free city defined by Yana City means that the total amount of waste is reduced by a certain percentage.

On the whole, although the case cities have different definitions of non-waste cities, the quantitative targets are basically set within a period of 15 to 20 years, and the targets are updated according to actual needs. The quantitative targets give the establishment of a waste-free city. Clear expectations, unrealized waste-free cities provide a guarantee.

At this stage, most of the “waste-free cities” are established in developed countries. Different political visions, management systems, urban status quo, waste management systems, etc. determine that the types of waste included in the “waste-free” are different. San Francisco, Vancouver, Masdar City, Sydney, Oakland, etc. included all municipal waste, while Uekatsu, Capannori, and Ljubljana included only domestic waste. Urban waste in some cities includes domestic waste, construction waste, industrial waste, commercial waste, etc.; in some cities, because they are mainly service industries, their urban waste does not include industrial waste. In addition, due to different classifications, commercial waste in some cities is not listed separately, but only as part of domestic waste. In the case city, agricultural waste is not included in the "no waste" target.

2. Taking waste management as the basis for establishing a "waste-free city"

Most cities have decades or even hundreds of years of waste management experience before formulating the goal of "Waste Free City", which has laid a good foundation for the realization of "Waste Free City". The waste management system of the case city is basically government-led, production companies are responsible, households sorted and put, waste processors are responsible for collection, transportation and treatment, and commercial companies, construction companies, and industrial companies are mostly independent contracted service providers. It is worth mentioning that, due to the large number of domestic waste generators, classified placement, collection, transportation and treatment are particularly important. The case cities all attach great importance to the source classification of domestic waste. They are equipped with sufficient garbage bins with clear guidelines. At the same time, they formulate special plans to separately recycle and dispose of organic domestic waste (such as kitchen waste); some cities provide home collection services for domestic waste . On the whole, due to the relatively complete waste management system, the garbage fees collected by most of the case cities have been able to fully cover the relevant expenditures, and waste management has entered a healthy track.


At a more specific operational level, the priority order of waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and landfill can be followed. The case city actively encourages waste generators (households, companies, etc.) to take responsibility to avoid and reduce waste generation. At the same time, the case city is equipped with a recycling center or recycling center to dispose of all kinds of waste, so that it can be reused or recycled in the future. In terms of domestic waste, the case cities have relatively complete waste donation or transaction channels, such as second-hand markets, trading websites, etc. These methods often have a strong degree of participation; in terms of construction and industrial waste, the case cities have adopted Set repetition rate and recycling rate to ensure the execution of these two processing methods. In addition, the case cities realize the final disposal of waste through the construction of composting plants, incineration plants, landfill plants, etc.; in order to save costs, some cities choose to co-process wastes with neighboring cities.

In addition, market participation and professional management can also be introduced. The government is the main person responsible for the establishment of a "waste-free city", but due to the complex chain of waste collection, transportation, and treatment, full mobilization of market capital and professional technology will help more effective management. The case cities are all models in this regard. For example, San Francisco has outsourced the placement of trash bins, the collection and treatment of domestic waste (including recycling, incineration, and landfill) to a waste treatment company that has been operating for hundreds of years (Recology, Luyuan Recycling Company), and worked with this company to develop a city’s waste management plan. In the City of Vancouver, the government is responsible for the collection and treatment of household non-recyclable waste, outsourcing the collection and treatment of recyclable domestic waste to a waste processor (Recycle BC), and allows many private companies and Non-profit organizations are widely involved in all aspects of waste collection, transportation, and treatment. Due to different political systems and cultural habits, the specific operations of introducing market participation and professional management in the case cities are quite different.

3. Combine strict administrative measures with flexible market means

Bans and compulsory measures (mostly in the form of laws) are one of the important means to achieve "waste-free cities". The case cities have different bans for different wastes. For construction waste, it is forbidden to landfill at will, and it is forcibly transported to a special treatment plant, and it is mandatory to reuse and recycle with a specified proportion; for domestic waste, it is forbidden to use disposable items (especially disposable water cups, straws, tableware, etc.), The use of plastic bags is prohibited, the landfill of organic waste such as kitchen waste is prohibited, the use of degradable compostable plastic bags is compulsory, and the classification of domestic waste is mandatory. When formulating the above-mentioned administrative measures, “waste-free cities” often adopt a cyclical and gradual approach to give the market and residents a certain buffer period, but they are constantly expanding the scope of prohibition and enforcement.


Flexible market instruments can help promote the behavior change of waste generators, indirectly contribute to the goal of "no waste", and are also a source of income for government departments. The market instruments adopted by the "waste-free city" mainly include two types of positive incentives and reverse incentives. The positive incentives mainly include the following: only charge for landfill and incineration of domestic waste to promote households to reduce the generation of such waste, and rationally classify and put domestic waste; use a deposit system for plastic bottles, etc., to encourage Consumers make reasonable investment to promote subsequent recycling; provide tax relief, low-interest loans, sites, etc. to companies building waste treatment plants to encourage companies to participate in waste management. Reverse incentives mainly include the following: charge landfill plants based on the amount of waste buried in order to increase the cost of landfill and promote the reduction of landfill; charge companies that produce plastic bags, packaging, and toxic and hazardous substances to increase this The cost of similar products; charging consumers who buy plastic bags and packaging to reduce the use of such items.

In addition, the case cities have generally implemented extensive producer responsibility systems. The producer responsibility system requires the manufacturer to design and select materials from the product to the recycling and disposal of the product at the end of its life cycle. This can not only greatly promote waste recycling and treatment, but also promote enterprises to choose or produce products with little impact on the environment at the source. It is one of the important means to realize a "waste-free city". Most of the case cities adopted the producer responsibility system and continued to expand the scope. For example, in 2017, the city of Vancouver added printing paper and packaging, textiles, carpets and furniture, construction and demolition materials and other production enterprises, which are expected to pass existing and future The expanded scope can cover 50% of municipal waste. Some of the case cities follow the scope of the producer responsibility system set by the country. For example, Auckland City, in accordance with the policy requirements of the New Zealand Ministry of Environment, recycles its products from companies in industries such as tires, electronic equipment, and packaging. Since most of the products in "waste-free cities" come from other cities or regions, it is necessary to further promote the implementation of the producer responsibility system at the provincial or national level.

4. Exploring new technologies and focusing on raising public awareness

The development of new technologies has brought convenience to waste management and provided more possibilities for achieving "no waste". The case cities are all exploring, researching and applying new technologies related to waste. As a new city planned by the UAE government, Masdar City abandoned traditional trucks or trucks when designing a waste transportation system, and built a low-energy underground flat-panel freight system to improve transportation efficiency and reduce labor costs. As the capital of Slovenia, the city of Ljubljana established a new treatment plant for organic waste in 2015. In addition, the case city actively researches and introduces degradable materials, and adopts technologies and hardware to improve waste composting efficiency and incineration efficiency.

In addition to adopting new technologies, we should also focus on raising public awareness through information dissemination and training. Adequate information and public awareness training are the most basic but important part of waste management. The case cities have played a leading role in this regard. They have developed waste-related webpages and APPs, and carried out extensive and long-lasting training. The webpage developed by the City of Sydney provides comprehensive waste management, community activities and other information. This page can also be used by families to fill in applications or requests to replace trash bins. The City of Sydney has offered environmental protection courses since elementary school to provide knowledge on waste separation and recycling. The City of San Francisco develops a special waste webpage and APP to display waste classification and processing information, and activates a database for information query, such as the location of waste disposal sites, appointment on-site collection services, etc.; provides a wide range of multilingual for households and commercial enterprises , Door-to-door domestic waste management training. The city of Capannori established Europe's first "No-Waste Research Institute" in 2003. In addition to providing extensive waste management information and research, it also provides a variety of free training for schools, commercial organizations, and the public.

To sum up, the "waste-free city" has emerged globally for nearly 20 years. The international community has accumulated relevant experience in the process of building a "waste-free city", and its typical practices are worth learning from. Although due to differences in resource endowments, political systems, management systems, cultural habits, etc., the paths and measures taken in the process of building "waste-free cities" are quite different, the same thing is that these cities have formulated long-term and quantitative " The goal of "no waste" is to follow the priority order of waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and landfill, and to continuously improve the waste management system and introduce professional management.

In the long run, the establishment of a "waste-free city" requires a transformation from the traditional linear model of resource extraction-production-consumption-processing to a circular economy model. It is necessary to promote changes in the awareness and behavior of all stakeholders from the production end to the consumption end. In this way, the construction of a "waste-free city" has become a part of urban governance, sustainable development, and ecological civilization.