Evaluating waste and scrap trade risks in Belt and Road Initiative countries

Xiaoqian Hu , Chao Wang, Ming Lim, Xiao Bai , Cuiyou Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global development strategy with great potential for multilateral trade cooperation and economic growth in Asia, Europe and Africa. Commodities trade volumes across BRI countries have boomed in the last few years. However, the waste and scrap (WaS) trade, an important aspect of global waste management, has received little attention. In recent years, frequent trade frictions and restrictive import policies due to increasing environmental protection awareness have sent massive shocks through the international WaS trade system. Exploring the impacts of shocks on BRI-WaS trade is an important but unexamined research topic that can help ensure the steady operation of WaS recycling. To address this research gap, this study first provides a panoramic view of the BRI-WaS trade network and analyzes its structural relation to the global WaS trade network. Second, the hidden risks in the BRI-WaS trade are revealed by proposed shock propagation models in three real-life scenarios, namely, a unilateral trade disruption, a bilateral trade crash and an import ban. Third, the global circulations conceptual framework is mathematically examined in the BRI regional context. The findings reveal that BRI countries are increasingly important to global WaS trade and that BRI-WaS trade presents a heterogeneous structure with evenly distributed trade channels. The “most at-risk” sources in the BRI-WaS trade network are uncovered. The BRI circulation system is mathematically feasible but eco-ethically infeasible. Discussions are provided to support authorities in developing effective strategies to manage BRI-WaS trade and responses to future extreme disturbances as well as address the global WaS crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105728
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online date17 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 173, (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.105728

© 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (72071006 and 62073007), the Chongqing Science and Technology Commission (Project no. cstc2019jscx-msxmX0189) and Beijing Municipal Natural Science Foundation (9192005). Dr. Xiaoqian Hu acknowledges the financial support from the Fundamental Research Funds for the Beijing Universities (XRZ2021067). Dr. Xiao Bai acknowledges the financial support from the Startup Fund for Youth of Beijing Tsinghua Changgeng Hospital.


  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • Complex networks
  • Trade risk
  • Waste and scrap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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