Toilet revolution in China




Cheng, Shikun
Li, Zifu
Uddin, Sayed Mohammad Nazim
Mang, Heinz-Peter
Zhou, Xiaoqin
Zhang, Jian
Zheng, Lei
Zhang, Lingling

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Journal of Environmental Management


The wide-spread prevalence of unimproved sanitation technologies has been a major cause of concern for the environment and public health, and China is no exception to this. Towards the sanitation issue, toilet revolution has become a buzzword in China recently. This paper elaborates the backgrounds, connotations, and actions of the toilet revolution in China. The toilet revolution aims to create sanitation infrastructure and public services that work for everyone and that turn waste into value. Opportunities for implementing the toilet revolution include: fulfilling Millennium Development Goals and new Sustainable Development Goals; government support at all levels for popularizing sanitary toilet; environmental protection to alleviate wastewater pollution; resource recovery from human waste and disease prevention for health and wellbeing improvement. Meanwhile, the challenges faced are: insufficient funding and policy support, regional imbalance and lagging approval processes, weak sanitary awareness and low acceptance of new toilets, lack of R&D and service system. The toilet revolution requires a concerted effort from many governmental departments. It needs to address not only technology implementation, but also social acceptance, economic affordability, maintenance issues and, increasingly, gender considerations. Aligned with the ecological sanitation principles, it calls for understanding issues across the entire sanitation service chain. Public-private partnership is also recommended to absorb private capital to make up the lack of funds, as well as arouse the enthusiasm of the public.


Available online 21 September 2017 In Press, Corrected Proof


Toilet revolution, Sanitation, Challenge, Opportunities, China


Cheng, S., Li, Z., Uddin, S.M.N., Mang, H., Zhou, X., Zhang, J., Zheng, L. & Zhang, L. (2017). Toilet revolution in China. Journal of Environmental Management.