Advancing sustainable growth in the United States and China

Fourth “Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities” Finalists Announced

Organic Waste Recycling, Ecosystem Restoration, and Industrial Gas Purification and Recycling Take Top Slots


The Paulson Institute announced today the three finalists for the fourth annual Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities. The 2016 finalists—an organic waste-to-fertilizer initiative in nine Chinese cities, an ecosystem restoration project in Inner Mongolia, and a nitrous oxide purification project in Shandong province—were selected from about 40 applications by an independent jury for their innovative approaches to tackling pressing environmental challenges, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and their scalability.

The independent jury, comprised of Chinese and U.S. experts in environmental conservation, green building, energy efficiency, and sustainable economic growth, will make onsite visits to each of the three finalist projects this week.

This year, the Paulson Institute updated the Prize criteria to put more weight on greenhouse gas reduction, economic viability, and scalability—with the goal that the winner would be a model for others to replicate. Further, to diversify the types of applicant projects, the Institute searched for nominees across three major categories: Built Environment, Circular Economy, and Natural Capital.

Launched in 2013, the Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities is awarded annually to a project in China that represents a best practice in sustainable urbanization that will help advance China’s transition to a more sustainable economy. By highlighting outstanding projects, the Prize aims to inspire the spread of environmental and economic solutions that will support China’s efforts to achieve ambitious climate, air quality, and economic growth goals as it urbanizes rapidly.

This year’s Paulson Prize winner will be announced in mid-March at a ceremony in Beijing.

Below, a synopsis of the three finalists:

Goldenway’s Organic Waste Recycling and Farmland Quality Improvement


Beijing Goldenway Bio-tech Company uses small-scale waste treatment facilities to process organic waste (mostly urban kitchen food waste) for fertilizer. The company currently has 14 waste processing plants in nine large Chinese cities, as well as rural processing facilities, with waste recycling capacity of 2,000 tons per day. It not only solves the problem of scaling accumulation of organic waste, but also increases organic content and carbon storage in the soil, which further reduces greenhouse gas emission and promotes food security. Fertilizer created from these waste processing units has been applied to a total of 2 million mu (133,000 hectares) of agricultural land. The company also works with partners to train local farmers on how to apply the waste to reduce fertilizer consumption and increase soil quality.

Inner Mongolia Shengle International Ecological Demonstration Zone

This is an ecological restoration project implemented by Inner Mongolia Hartion Silviculture Co. Ltd. in partnership with NGOs and government. The goal of the project is to restore a key ecosystem in the arid and semi-arid zones in Inner Mongolia, adapt the area to climate change, and fortify the Inner Mongolia region as an ecological barrier in northern China. The developer expects the project to sequester 220,000 tons of CO2 in the next three decades, and the project owner has successfully concluded a carbon trade with the Walt Disney Company.

Linggas N2O Recycling and Purification

Linggas’s process collects and purifies high-quality nitrous oxide (N2O) from the waste gas stream of adipic acid manufacturing. The chief benefit of the process is that it reduces emissions of N2O, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 310 times greater than carbon dioxide. About 40 percent of the emissions from the manufacturing process of adipic acid, an organic chemical, is nitric oxide (N2O). Normally, chemical plants will discharge emissions into the air with no collection. By recycling the highly-purified N2O and selling it into the electronics industry, where it is used mostly in making LED and LCD screens, Linggas’ process addresses climate change, while at the same time providing economic benefits.

About the Paulson Institute
The Paulson Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit “think and do” tank grounded in the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work in complementary ways. Our mission is to strengthen U.S.-China relations and to advance sustainable economic growth and environmental protection in both countries. Founded in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the 74th Secretary of the Treasury and former Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, the Institute is based in Chicago and has offices in Washington, San Francisco, and Beijing.