Product and Metal Stocks Accumulation of China's Megacities: Patterns, Drivers, and Implications

Qiance Liu, Zhi Cao, Xiaojie Liu, Litao Liu, Tao Dai, Ji Han, Huabo Duan, Chang Wang, Heming Wang, Jun Liu, Guotian Cai, Ruichang Mao, Gaoshang Wang, Juan Tan, Shenggong Li, Gang Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

221 Downloads (Pure)


The rapid urbanization in China since the 1970s has led to an exponential growth of metal stocks (MS) in use in cities. A retrospect on the quantity, quality, and patterns of these MS is a prerequisite for projecting future metal demand, identifying urban mining potentials of metals, and informing sustainable urbanization strategies. Here, we deployed a bottom-up stock accounting method to estimate stocks of iron, copper, and aluminum embodied in 51 categories of products and infrastructure across 10 Chinese megacities from 1980 to 2016. We found that the MS in Chinese megacities had reached a level of 2.6-6.3 t/cap (on average 3.7 t/cap for iron, 58 kg/cap for copper, and 151 kg/cap for aluminum) in 2016, which still remained behind the level of western cities or potential saturation level on the country level (e.g., approximately 13 t/cap for iron). Economic development was identified as the most powerful driver for MS growth based on an IPAT decomposition analysis, indicating further increase in MS as China's urbanization and economic growth continues in the next decades. The latecomer cities should therefore explore a wide range of strategies, from urban planning to economy structure to regulations, for a transition toward more "metal-efficient" urbanization pathways.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)4128-4139
Publication statusPublished - 16. Apr 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Product and Metal Stocks Accumulation of China's Megacities: Patterns, Drivers, and Implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this