From pioneer to promotion: How can residential waste diversion non-profit organizations (NPOs) best co-evolve in modern China?

Zongliang Ma, Changjun Li, Yunshu Xue, Chibuike K. Nduneseokwu, Xiao Wang, Marie K. Harder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Against the background of China's policies to intensify efforts in residential municipal waste sorting, some non-profit organisations (NPOs) have shown that they can make a significant difference in changing residents’ behaviours. However, this is a very new policy and implementation context for schemes of tasks, facilities and responsibilities that previously did not exist – even the formal roles for community-level governance officers, NPOs and other stakeholders are still evolving. Here we use a SWOT-PEST analysis to analyse the current operating context of six pioneering NPOs over the last year, to extract generalisable learning to accelerate scaling up as China widens the policies. The results show that the NPOs benefit much from having or establishing a network with the grass-roots level community, and nurturing a positive interaction with all stakeholders: their ability to interface lowest-level government structures with the public was key. The government's support for NPOs in terms of finance or facilities was important, but introductions to stakeholders was crucial. Most NPOs struggled with growing too fast, and insufficient expertise in operational details (such as keeping facilities clean). To be sustainable, they needed more experience in communicating their core goals (e.g. environmental), in terms that the urban planners and funders would appreciate. Non-alignment with current government waste agenda was not seen.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100055
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Challenges
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the interviewees from six pilot NPOs for their support and cooperation throughout the study. The authors also thank Vanke Foundation and Beijing Woqi Foundation for their support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Non-profit organisation
  • Residential waste sorting
  • Solid waste management
  • SWOT-PEST analysis
  • Waste reduction


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