Urbanization and economic growth are leading to a rapid rise in municipal waste generation. In 2012, the World Bank projected that municipal solid waste will grow from 1.3 billion tonnes in 2010 to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. Many cities are struggling with municipal waste that is increasing in quantity and changing in composition while the financial resources to manage waste remain flat.
But solving the solid waste problem is not always a matter of increasing investment. Cities could first focus on the fundamentals—understanding local context and not overly complicating the waste management system—while designing for the anticipated change in waste quantities and composition.
Waste can be a financial asset if cities collaborate to attract investors, select appropriate technologies, extract value from recoverable materials, and work with the informal sector.
—Silpa Kaza & Farouk Mollah Banna, World Bank
3.5 million tonnes of solid waste generated globally per day in 2013.
6 million tonnes of solid waste expected to be generated globally per day in 2025.
“For every truckload of product with lasting value, 32 truckloads of waste are produced. We have a waste-making system. Clearly, we cannot continue to dig up the Earth and turn it to waste.”
—Ray Anderson, Founder of Interface & Fortune magazine’s “Greenest CEO in America.”
An effective SWM effort starts here
Waste composition by income
Global solid waste composition
Source: “What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” by Daniel Hoornweg and Perinaz Bhada-Tata, Urban Development Series Knowledge Papers, World Bank, March 2012, No. 15.