Symbiotic integration of waste disposal capability within a city cluster : The case of the Yangtze River Delta

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number117166
Journal / PublicationJournal of Environmental Management
Online published3 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


With the ongoing urbanization in developing regions, integrating regional waste disposal capability is challenging due to unbalanced economic development and rising environmental issues. This research proposed a multi-dimensional symbiotic integration of waste disposal capability. Applying data from the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) in China, we first explore the waste flows and interactions between cities to identify the possibility of inter-municipal collaboration based on the augmented gravity model. We then employ social network analysis to categorize the cities in the collaborative network of waste disposal into subgroups by functionalities. Finally, we proposed the top-down framework of symbiotic networks for waste disposal. Our findings indicate that YRD cities can be classified into four types according to their waste density and disposal efficiency: High-High, Low-High, Low-Low, and High-Low. We also identify three types of inter-municipal collaborative relationships: between high-density and high-efficiency cities, between high-density cities, and between high-efficiency cities. The city subgroups can be categorized into “high-efficiency clusters,” “high-density clusters,” and “hub clusters,” which pave the way for a shared or complementary urban symbiosis in the waste recycling industry. The division of roles among subgroups enables symbiotic activities within the city cluster. This paper extends the spatial scope of industrial symbiosis literature and has practical implications for transitioning to a circular economy in waste management of developing countries.

Research Area(s)

  • Circular economy, City clusters, Symbiotic network, Waste disposal capability