Developing country cities, already coping with burgeoning populations, scarce financial resources, and limited capacity to manage environmental issues, are facing a sharp rise in the amount and costs of garbage that they will be required to deal with by 2025.
A new report from the World Bank’s Urban Development department estimates the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) will rise from the current 1.3 billion tonnes per year to 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. Much of the increase will come in rapidly growing cities in developing countries.
The annual, global cost of this necessary solid waste management is projected to rise from the current $205 billion to $375 billion, with the cost increasing most severely for those cities in low income countries.
The report, What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, for the first time offers consolidated data on MSW generation, collection, composition, and disposal by country and by region.
In itself, this is an accomplishment because, as the report states, reliable global MSW information is either not available or incomplete, inconsistent, and incomparable. Nevertheless, the authors of the report point to a looming crisis in MSW treatment as living standards rise and urban populations grow.
“Improving solid waste management, especially in the rapidly growing cities of low income countries, is becoming a more and more urgent issue,” said Rachel Kyte, Vice President, Sustainable Development at the World Bank.
“The findings of this report are sobering, but they also offer hope that once the extent of this issue is recognized, local and national leaders, as well as the international community, will mobilize to put in place programs to reduce, reuse, recycle, or recover as much waste as possible before burning it (and recovering the energy) or otherwise disposing of it," Kyte said. "Measuring the extent of the problem is a critical first step to resolving it."