Study: Municipal Solid Waste Generation Could Double by 2025

The amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated globally could double by 2025, according to a new study.

The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute said in a news release that growing prosperity and urbanization could result in MSW volume reaching 2.6 billion tons in 13 years compared with the current 1.3 million tons. That could challenge environmental and public health management in the world’s cities, according to the independent environmental research organization.

Members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 industrialized nations, lead the world in MSW generation with nearly 1.6 million tons per day. By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa produces less than one-eighth that amount at about 200 million tons per day.

The list of top 10 MSW-generating countries includes four developing nations (Brazil, China, India, and Mexico) in part because of the size of their urban populations and in part because their city residents are prospering and adopting high-consumption lifestyles. The United States leads the world in MSW generation at about 621,000 tons per day. China is a relatively close second, at about 521,000 tons. The United States generates nearly seven times more urban waste than does the nation in the 10th position, France.

About 25 percent of the world's waste is recycled, composted or digested. Recycling rates vary widely by country, the report stated. In the United States, the amount of MSW recycled grew to 34 percent in 2010 from less than 10 percent in 1980. Other countries, particularly industrialized ones, report similar increases.

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