Global study warns of increase in waste volumes

The Global Waste Management Outlook has indicated that inadequate waste management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem.

According to the report, between seven and ten billion tons of urban waste is produced each year and three billion people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal facilities.

Fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, the volumes of waste are likely to even double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, warns the Global Waste Management Outlook, launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

“An urgent response to the world’s mounting waste problem is not only a public health and environmental necessity, but also a sound economic investment. Inaction is costing countries five to ten times more than investments in proper waste management. A greater commitment by nations to systematically apply the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – can transform the problem of waste into a resource for our economies,” UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner, said.

Economic benefits

“The global waste management goals proposed by this report have the potential to result in dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, the creation of millions of green jobs and economic benefits in the hundreds of billions of dollars. By achieving them, we would also be taking massive strides toward realising the sustainable development goals.”

The report offers an integrated global solution to the waste problem, including calling for immediate improvement of waste collection and disposal, preventing waste and maximising reuse and recycling of resources. It also calls for a major shift away from the linear ‘take-make-use-waste’ economy and towards the circular ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ approach to the life-cycle of materials.

“This very first worldwide waste report really is a monumental work that has taken ISWA and UNEP experts two years to write,” said David Newman, ISWA president. “The Global Waste Management Outlook will help the waste management industry define its future over the next decade, and it also is an urgent call for action for investments to drive a global clean-up of the billions of tons of waste still dumped into our environment.”

Situation can change

“Collectively we have the technological capacity to solve the global waste problem. Despite of this, a staggering three billion people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal, with the result that waste litter our streets with grave environmental and health consequences,” Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren, president of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), said.

“This situation can be changed only if countries enforce proactive policies and sound institutions that encourage waste minimisation and recycling,” she added. “Major producers should also be more involved in managing the entire life-cycle of their products. International cooperation will be vital in preventing developing countries from becoming dumping ground for hazardous materials.”


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