The amount of urban waste being produced is growing faster than the rate of urbanisation, according to the World Bank’s report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.
By 2025 there will be 1.4 billion more people living in cities worldwide, with each person producing an average of 1.42kg of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day – more than double the current average of 0.64kg per day.
Annual worldwide urban waste is estimated to more than triple, from 0.68 to 2.2 billion tonnes per year.
The map below shows how much MSW each urban-dweller produces per country (figures are for 2012, the latest year for which data is available).
The top producers of MSW were small island nations, including Trinidad & Tobago (14.40 kg/capita/day), Antigua and Barbuda (5.5kg) and St. Kitts and Nevis (5.45kg), Sri Lanka (5.10kg), Barbados (4.75kg), St Lucia (4.35kg) and the Solomon Islands (4.30kg). Guyana (5.33kg) and Kuwait (5.72kg) also scored highly.
The worldwide average is 1.2kg.
New Zealand (3.68kg), Ireland (3.58kg), Norway (2.80kg), Switzerland (2.61kg) and the United States (2.58kg) were the top five producers in the developed world.
The countries producing the least urban waste were Ghana (0.09kg) and Uruguay (0.11kg).
The World Bank defines municipal solid waste as including ‘non-hazardous waste generated in households, commercial and business establishments, institutions, and non-hazardous industrial process wastes, agricultural wastes and sewage sludge. In practice, specific definitions vary across jurisdictions.’
Author: Paul Muggeridge is Head of Content at Formative Content.
Image: A truck loaded with waste is seen at the Malagrotta landfill near Rome, December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi