Source separation of municipal solid waste: The effects of different separation methods and citizens’ inclination—case study of Changsha, China
A case study on the source separation of municipal solid waste (MSW) was performed in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province, China. The objective of this study is to analyze the effects of different separation methods and compare their effects with citizens’ attitudes and inclination. An effect evaluation method based on accuracy rate and miscellany rate was proposed to study the performance of different separation methods. A large-scale questionnaire survey was conducted to determine citizens’ attitudes and inclination toward source separation. Survey result shows that the vast majority of respondents hold consciously positive attitudes toward participation in source separation. Moreover, the respondents ignore the operability of separation methods and would rather choose the complex separation method involving four or more subclassed categories. For the effects of separation methods, the site experiment result demonstrates that the relatively simple separation method involving two categories (food waste and other waste) achieves the best effect with the highest accuracy rate (83.1%) and the lowest miscellany rate (16.9%) among the proposed experimental alternatives. The outcome reflects the inconsistency between people’s environmental awareness and behavior. Such inconsistency and conflict may be attributed to the lack of environmental knowledge. Environmental education is assumed to be a fundamental solution to improve the effect of source separation of MSW in Changsha. Important management tips on source separation, including the reformation of the current pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system, are presented in this work.
Implications: A case study on the source separation of municipal solid waste was performed in Changsha. An effect evaluation method based on accuracy rate and miscellany rate was proposed to study the performance of different separation methods. The site experiment result demonstrates that the two-category (food waste and other waste) method achieves the best effect. The inconsistency between people’s inclination and the effect of source separation exists. The proposed method can be expanded to other cities to determine the most effective separation method during planning stages or to evaluate the performance of running source separation systems.