Waste management in Guangdong Cities: The waste management literacy and waste reduction preferences of domestic waste generators

Shan Shan CHUNG*, Carlos W.H. Lo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


A questionnaire survey was conducted in 2002 on 1365 households in two prefectural-level cities in the Pearl River Delta, Jiangmen and Zhongshan. Three groups of issues are covered in this paper: 1) waste management literacy, concerns, and public participation; 2) waste recycling practices and the potential for waste avoidance; and 3) public environmental literacy. This study confirms findings from previous surveys and provides new information on important issues such as imposing monetary charges on waste and environmental activities, littering, source separation programs (SSPs), and public participation and expectations in local waste management. Saving up recyclable materials for redemption in waste depots is commonly practiced in mainland China regardless of the level of development of a city, although at the household level, high-income families tend to place less value on the revenues to be gained from redemption than lower income groups do. Data from the previous and the present studies indicate that such voluntary but largely economically driven waste recovery behavior diverts at least 10% of the household waste from the waste stream. Although uncompensated SSP is less appealing in the two cities than compensated SSP, it was found that when the median per capita income of a city reaches RMB2000 per month, a high participation rate for uncompensated waste recovery is more likely to occur. Education and income levels are the chief factors affecting littering behavior and the potential for waste avoidance. Contrary to general belief, the local Chinese community is active in microwaste management. The concern, however, is over the inability of the grassroots bureaucracy to deal with rising expectations for waste collection services and neighborhood cleanliness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-711
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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