Advancing sustainable growth in the United States and China

Finalists of the 5th Annual Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities Announced


The Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities, which was launched in 2013 and is co-hosted by the Paulson Institute and Tsinghua University, entered into its fifth year in 2017. The Prize is awarded annually to a project in China that represents a best practice in sustainable urbanization and helps 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 help China achieve ambitious climate, air quality, and economic growth goals as it urbanizes rapidly.

The Wusong Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project, the Danfu Castor-Based Green Lubricating Oil Project, and the Jingmen GEM Co. Clean E-Waste Recycling Project stood out as the three finalists among 40 applications. The Prize Jury Committee evaluated applications based upon five criteria: energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction, creativity, private sector engagement, scalability, and social co-benefits.

The independent Jury Committee, chaired by former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, consists of leading experts from the U.S. and China in sustainable development, finance, ecology, energy, and climate change, among other areas. The Committee visited the top three projects on-site in late March to decide on the winner, which will be announced in early May.

More about the three finalists:

Wusong Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade
The Shanghai Wusong Wastewater Treatment Plant was first built in 1988, and was upgraded in 2006, with a designed capacity of 40,000 tons/day, and treated water meeting municipal wastewater effluent standard level II. However, after 2006, the area surrounding the plant gradually turned into a densely populated community due to rapid urbanization, with the odor posing a negative impact on the surrounding environment. Moreover, the upgraded facility still lagged behind capacity demands, the quality of the discharged water was below municipal wastewater effluent standard level II, and the odor was a negative factor to real estate development in surrounding areas.

Faced with these challenges, the plant decided to upgrade again and use Organica food Chain Reactor (FCR) technology. Featuring modular engineered ecosystems, FCR technology can adjust sewage treatment capacity freely, resulting in more efficient nutrient removal and energy conservation while using 50-60% fewer land resources when treating the same amount of wastewater.

Danfu Green Castor-Based Lubricating Oil Project
By using castor as the raw material, the project aims to promote the biodegradable and cost-effective lubricating oil to replace traditional oil-based lubricating oil. It can enhance fuel performance and contribute to vehicle exhaust emission reductions as a possible solution to fight smog. The bio-based raw material is also helpful for reducing consumption of fossil fuel and combatting climate change.

Moreover, planting castor on sterile land where other crops cannot grow also helps with carbon sinking. By leveraging the R&D capacity of Nankai University, the project successfully piloted an industrial chain from seed breeding, oil-fertilizer co-production, to fine chemistry, bio-based lubricating oil and bio-based jet fuel. The world-class technology used in this project is scalable across China and beyond.

Jingmen GEM Co. Clean E-Waste Recycling Project
In 2006, Jingmen GEM recycled 2,024,727 sets of waste electrical and electronic equipment resulting in carbon dioxide reduction by 142,960 tons, mitigating secondary environmental pollution and easing the increasing pressure on natural resources.

With a simple barcode, the digitalized management system can track the process from recycling, transportation, storage, disassembling, sorting, to resale. It can dispose of the wastewater, gas, residue and mud in an environment-friendly way. The technology can also be used for recycling cobalt, nickel, tungsten, and hard alloy chain.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner in early May.

For more information, please visit paulsoninstitute.org/prize.

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—the world’s largest economies, energy consumers, and emitters of carbon—work in complementary ways. 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.

About Tsinghua University
Tsinghua University was established in 1911. With the motto of “Self-Discipline and Social Commitment” and the spirit of “Actions Speak Louder than Words”, Tsinghua University is dedicated to the well-being of Chinese society and to world development. At present, the university has 14 schools and 56 departments with faculties in science, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, history, philosophy, economics, management, education and art. The University has now over 25,900 students, including 13,100 undergraduates and 12,800 graduate students. As one of China’s most renowned universities, Tsinghua has become an important institution for fostering talent and scientific research.