Helping China’s food waste problem

Through the rapid growth and urbanization rate, the amounts of waste are increasingly growing in China. First steps in the classification and sorting of municipal solid waste have been initiated in recent years. This has provided more insights into the troubling situation regarding food waste. Different research indicated that Chinese cities waste 17 to 18 million tonnes of food annually which is enough to feed 30 – 50 million people for a year.

To illustrate, in Shanghai food waste has increased by 27.5% in recent years, which is mainly generated by the catering sector. And even though Shanghai is the first urban city to implement strict sorting policies, there are challenges to overcome. Firstly, insufficient treatment capacity, it is estimated that Shanghai produces more than 9.000 tonnes of food waste daily but the treatment capacity can only handle 5.000 tonnes. Secondly, because of the insufficient quality composition of sorted food waste, using it for composting for example becomes more difficult.

As the priority for China is to become more self-sufficient, dealing with the food waste problem in a sustainable way is key to decrease the immense amounts of food imports for example. A transition to prevention will become increasingly important. The coming years will see more investments in experimenting with new valorization techniques. Finding more efficient and effective ways for the collection & sorting systems, finding new ways to reuse outputs from the existing treatment facilities back into the food chain but also creating new solutions that can deal with the urban-rural context.

Together with colleagues from our headquarters in the Netherlands, Dröge & van Drimmelen, our partners, New Economy, and Acclime, we are working together with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai, conducting a market study for business opportunities of Dutch enterprises within the Yangtze River Delta. The study is currently being finalized and scheduled to be published in July 2021.

Please contact us at if you are interested in knowing more or if you are in relevant food waste fields and would like to be updated and involved in future events regarding combating food waste in China.