The article, Sorting out a problem: A co-production approach to household waste management in Shanghai, China, published in Waste Management journal and co-authored by Hongmei Lu and Roman Sidortsov explores an innovative approach to waste management in Shanghai.
Rapid urban population growth in China has resulted in significant challenges for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management. To combat these challenges, Chinese authorities implemented a pilot program of MSW sorting in eight Chinese cities including Shanghai in 2000 but is yet to reach a widespread success. This paper uses a qualitative case-study approach to explore the potential of a community-based co-production strategy for household waste sorting as an alternative to the conventional top-down approach. Co-production implies the involvement of citizens, consumers, volunteers and/or community organizations in producing public service. We find two major drivers of the government-volunteer consortium and the peer-pressure effect help realize the potential of waste-management co-production at a lowered cost with improved efficiency and collaborative innovation. In addition, context-specific conditions including policy consistency, strong volunteer effort and compatibility with local culture to promote public participation must be present for further co-production application. We also acknowledge that the co-production approach would be most effective at the initial stage of policy implementation to foster the waste-sorting habit-formation in regions where the waste collection rates remain low.