Ningbo is undertaking an ambitious, long-term recycling and waste recovery program to reduce waste to landfill in line with national circular economy principles.

Home to around 3.5 million people on China’s east coast, Ningbo is a medium-sized city that is implementing an advanced waste separation, collection, and treatment strategy, with World Bank backing. The city is incentivizing separation of municipal waste at the source, before it is collected and either recycled or converted to energy. An anaerobic digestion facility for kitchen waste, the product of a public-private partnership, will be completed in 2018, with capacity for 30,000 m3 of organic waste per day. This will harvest natural gas produced from the decomposition process, which can be used for power or heat.

The project links with the national agenda and current Chinese Five-Year Plan, which explicitly requires a “sound collection and recycling system” for separated waste, as well as “promoting resource utilization and hazard free treatment of foods and other waste.” Citizens will benefit from better solid waste management, a cleaner environment and living conditions, and improved public health.

173,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year will be saved by the kitchen waste treatment facility by 2019

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The challenge

China produces around 300 million tons of waste per year, the majority of which ends up in landfill or at incineration plants. Ningbo’s new strategies aim to reverse this and create an environment that encourages recycling.


Economic Increasing recycling rates provides access to cheaper resources, and separating organic waste allows for harvesting of natural gas for energy and heat.

Environmental The project will improve solid waste collection and separation at the household level in six urban districts in Ningbo, reducing the amount of waste sent to the existing landfill and incineration facilities.

Social Community workshops are designed to educate citizens and improve waste segregation at the source. Over the past four years, more than 1,750 training sessions have been organized, engaging 108,000 citizens.

About Ningbo

Ningbo is a sub-provincial city in northeast Zhejiang province in China. Its port, spread across several locations, is among the busiest in the world and the municipality possesses a separate state-planning status. To the north, Hangzhou Bay separates Ningbo from Shanghai; to the east lies Zhoushan in the East China Sea; on the west and south, Ningbo borders Shaoxing and Taizhou respectively.

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