Comsumer Packaging Plastic Waste and Its Environmental Impacts in China: Measurement, Patterns, and Management

General Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China2021.01-2024.12


Plastics are basic materials vital to modern society. However, the continuously rapid growth of production, consumption, and discard of plastics have resulted in substantial waste of energy and resources and caused severe environmental pollutions. Packaging is the biggest application of plastics and can be divided into consumer packaging use and industrial packaging use. Among them, the consumer packaging plastics (CPPs) have now become the key object of policy making in controlling plastic pollution, because CPPs have the biggest amount of annual consumption in all plastic applications, are difficult to collect and recycle, and may cause severe environmental damages.

This project will focus on CPPs and try to achieve the following goals: (1) build a
material flow analysis (MFA) model to quantitatively characterize the whole life cycle of CPPs from production through to consumption, discard, recycle, and final disposal, and to quantify the generation and emission of CPPs waste in mainland China during 2000-2040; (2) explore the features of and the drivers to the CPPs waste generation and emission, and determine the routes of CPPs waste collection, recycling, and final disposal in typical cities including Xiamen, Xi’an, Dalian, and Chengdu, by fieldwork, questionnaireinvestigation, and bottom-up accounting; (3) quantify the environmental impacts and risks of the various routes for CPPs end-of-life recycling and disposal by building a life cycle assessment model and inventory database; and (4) identify a list of strategies for reducing the generation and emission of CPPs waste, and simulate the impacts of each of them for waste reduction, recycling promotion, and environmental impacts mitigation. The results of this project will provide important database and help decision-making for reducing emission and controlling pollution of plastics in China.


Packaging plastics; Environmental system engineering; Material flow analysis; Life cycle assessment; Urban metabolism