As the largest solid waste (SW) generator in the world, China is facing serious pollution issues induced by increasing quantities of SW. The sustainability assessment of SW management is very important for designing relevant policy for further improving the overall efficiency of solid waste management (SWM). By focusing on industrial solid waste (ISW) and municipal solid waste (MSW), the paper investigated the sustainability performance of SWM by applying decoupling analysis, and further identified the main drivers of SW change in China by adopting Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index (LMDI) model. The results indicate that China has made a great achievement in SWM which was specifically expressed as the increase of ISW utilized amount and harmless disposal ratio of MSW, decrease of industrial solid waste discharged (ISWD), and absolute decoupling of ISWD from economic growth as well. However, China has a long way to go to achieve the goal of sustainable management of SW. The weak decoupling, even expansive negative decoupling of ISW generation and MSW disposal suggests that China needs timely technology innovation and rational institutional arrangement to reduce SW intensity from the source and promote classification and recycling. The factors of investment efficiency and technology are the main determinants of the decrease in SW, inversely, economic growth has increased SW discharge. The effects of investment intensity showed a volatile trend over time but eventually decreased SW discharged. Moreover, the factors of population and industrial structure slightly increased SW.
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