By N.S. Ramnath| Jun 26, 2012
The amount of solid waste generated by global cities is growing each year. Not managing it efficiently now could lead to environmental and social problems
Economic growth might be teetering across the world, but the amount of garbage generated by global cities is only going up. Together, urban centres generate 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste a year and it is set to grow to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, according to projections by the World Bank. Most of the waste is sent to landfills, or worse, to open dumps, raising concerns about air pollution, social unrest, impact on poverty and so on. Managing solid waste has costs—$205.4 billion at present—and it’s growing. It is set to touch $375.5 billion by 2025.
MSW* generated per day**—624
Solid waste per person per day - 2.58 kg
MSW generated per day—702
Solid waste per person per day—2.3 kg
The world’s largest economy was also the biggest generator of solid waste, before giving up its position to China. Over the last few years, however, it has managed to increase its recycling rate and send less to landfills.
MSW generated per day—149
Solid waste per person per day— 1.03 kg
MSW generated per day—330
Solid waste per person per day—1.6 kg
Brazil is one of the fastest urbanising countries in the world. By 2025, over 90 percent of the population will live in urban areas, compared to 75 percent now.
MSW generated per day—110
Solid waste per person per day— 0.34 kg
MSW generated per day—276
Solid waste per person per day— 0.7 kg
Rapid urbanisation combined with development will double the solid waste generation. Urban centres generate disproportionately high waste, sometimes creating unrest around the way they are disposed.
MSW generated per day—128
Solid waste per person per day—2.11 kg
MSW generated per day—126
Solid waste per person per day— 2.05 kg
For a country that is known to be efficient, and religious about garbage disposal, German cities produce huge solid waste per person. But it's also one of the countries that is projected to generate less both in absolute terms and in relation to population.
MSW generated per day—100
Solid waste per person per day— 0.93 kg
MSW per day—120
Solid waste per person per day— 1.25 kg
A country with abundant land, Russia's primary mode of waste disposal has always been landfills. Following the fall of the USSR, there have been legislations towards more eco-friendly options, but 80 percent of waste still goes to landfills.
MSW generated per day—520
Solid waste per person per day— 1.02 kg
MSW generated per day—1,398
Solid waste per person per day— 1.7 kg
China surpassed the US as the world’s largest waste generator in 2004. In 2030, China is likely to produce twice as much municipal solid waste as the United States.
*Municipal Solid Waste **In 1,000 tonnes
Source: What A Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, World Bank, 2012