Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 18, pp 17330–17342 | Cite as

Investigation of the physical and chemical characteristics of rural solid waste in China and its spatiotemporal distributions

  • Xiaohui Wu
  • Bo Yue
  • Qifei Huang
  • Qi Wang
  • Zhilong Li
  • Yutang Wang
  • Junying Yu
Research Article


Despite governmental efforts toward the development of policies, funds, and technologies, the inherent characteristics of rural solid waste (RSW) discharge have led to great difficulties in RSW pollution control. However, establishing a realistic management strategy requires greater knowledge of RSW generation. Therefore, the RSW of 72 typical towns and villages from 12 provinces of China was analyzed for physicochemical characteristics, as well as its spatiotemporal distribution. The largest proportion of kitchen waste, coal ash, plastic, and paper of RSW was 33.70% ± 17.87%, 26.50% ± 17.61%, 13.48% ± 5.68%, and 10.75% ± 5.75%, respectively, in 2015. Although RSW had the potential for composting, it was still necessary to pay special attention to heavy metals pollution of RSW. The spatiotemporal distributions of RSW components were extremely non-homogenous, and significant variations existed in the kitchen residue, coal ash, plastic, and paper because of differences in economic growth, climatic changes, dietary habits, energy consumption structure, and consumer preferences. No obvious differences in RSW components were observed between villages and market towns. Overall, RSW treatment and management approaches should be considered based on local conditions of RSW generation.


Rural solid waste Physicochemical characteristics Physical components Spatiotemporal distributions 



This work was supported by the National Science and Technology Support Program Project (No. 2014BAL02B01) and the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 8172048). We thank Jeremy Kamen, MSc, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Water SciencesBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk AssessmentChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina

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