Global solid waste levels will double by 2025, says a new Vital Signs report from the Worldwatch Institute.
The July 2012 report by Worldwatch senior fellow Gary Gardner suggests prosperity and continuing urbanization in developing countries will be the main drivers behind doubling the world’s garbage output.
“Some 1.3 billion tons of municipal solid waste are generated globally each year, a volume that is increasing rapidly as urbanization, mass consumption, and throw-away lifestyles become more prevalent worldwide,” the report begins.
Muncipal solid waste is measured at collection, so data on it often includes collected material that is later diverted for recycling.
The Worldwatch report builds on another prominent 2012 report entitled What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2012). Authors Daniel Hoornweg and Perinaz Bhada-Tata noted that 10 years ago there were 2.9 billion urban residents who generated about 0.64 kg of municipal solid waste per person per day (or 0.68 billion tonnes per year). The report estimates that in 2012 these amounts have increased to about 3 billion residents generating 1.2 kg per person per day (or 1.3 billion tonnes per year). By 2025, the report suggests, this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste (or 2.2 billion tonnes per year).
While Canada did not make the Worldwatch report’s top 10 list of biggest waste-generating countries, the U.S. tops the list with an average of 621,232 tonnes of garbage generated per day. China and Brazil round out the list’s top-three waste producers. Even among the top 10, however, there is a wide range of output, as the U.S. generates nearly seven times more urban refuse than France in 10th position.
“Urbanization and income levels also tend to determine the type of waste generated,” states Gardner’s report. “The share of inorganic materials in the waste stream, including plastics, paper, and aluminum, tends to increase as people grow wealthier and move to cities. Waste flows in rural areas, in contrast, are characterized by a high share of organic matter, ranging from 40 to 85 per cent.”
Canada did make one list in the Worldwatch report. It came in 12th place out of the world’s top 15 recyclers. According to the report, Canada recycles approximately 27 per cent of its waste, well behind frontrunner South Korea, which sits at 49 per cent.
For more information on the report, check out www.worldwatch.org