We generate ever-increasing waste. Global municipal solid waste generation exceeds 2 billion tons per year and is expected to more than double to 4 or 5 billion by 2050.
Solid waste management is a key utility and critical infrastructure for society. Despite being widely rated as one of the top three priorities for many cities in developing countries, solid waste management tends to be taken for granted. This is a public health and environmental threat, as well as financial burden on society.
The environmental and societal costs of uncollected waste, uncontrolled disposal, open burning and unsound resource recovery lead to health problems, lost productivity, flood damage, damage to businesses and tourism, as well as longer-term clean-up costs. As 40% of the world’s waste from homes, businesses, agriculture, hospitals and industry is not collected or treated, this is truly a global crisis.
Measuring such impacts is notoriously difficult, but evidence collected (ISWA Global Waste Management Outlook) suggests the cost of inaction to society is 5-10 times greater than the financial costs of proper waste management.