This paper seeks to describe the overall state of Rural Solid Waste Management (RSWM) in China in three main areas: waste collection services, waste transportation services and waste disposal services. Given China’s urbanization, industrialization, and the subsequent improvement of household living standards, the amount of solid waste generated in rural China has increased rapidly. Based on primary data collected in 2016 from 100 villages across five provinces in China, we find that the proportion of villages with waste collection, waste transportation, and waste disposal services in 2015 is 80%, 55% and 22%, respectively. The differences in shares of villages with these services across provinces are statistically significant. Using descriptive and econometric analyses, the authors show that richer villages are more likely to provide rural solid waste (RSW) collection and transportation services. Villages with new (newly elected or appointed) village leaders are more likely to supply RSW disposal services. While the majority of villages report that they offer waste collection services (installing waste collection facilities and employing waste collection workers), the vast majority of villages do not transport their waste to treatment plants. Even fewer villages report using centralized disposal methods to dispose of waste, as required by law or regulation. This study represents the first effort to describe the state and determinants of waste management services in rural China in the wake of increased investment in and new policies regarding RSWM released in 2015. Additionally, we provide evidence-based suggestions that might be useful for policy makers interested in improving RSWM in China. These suggestions include increasing investments in waste collection facilities and worker services; encouraging local residents to classify and recycle waste; designing optimal waste transportation networks and routes; and improving on-site waste disposal technology.
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