26.04.2019

World Bank: By 2050, the world is expected to generate 3.40 billion tons of waste annually, increasing drastically from today’s 2.01 billion tons

By 2050, the world is expected to generate 3.40 billion tons of waste annually, increasing drastically from today’s 2.01 billion tons, says the recent World Bank Report "What a Waste 2.0. A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050".

Inadequate and improper waste collection and disposal negatively impact environmental sustainability and public health at the local and regional levels and contributes to climate change and GHG emissions (mainly methane, that is times potent than CO2) globally. However, waste is the largest source of pollution in the oceans. In the middle and low-income countries improper waste management results in polluting water, air, and soil. There is a need to significantly improve waste and resource management at all levels, making the use of different policy and fiscal instruments, enhancing international cooperation, encouraging the investments in the sector and technologies, and building effective public-private partnerships. 

Introducing proper policies and waste management in place can significantly reduce social costs. For instance, according to the study held by McKinsey in 2016 for South East Asia, the economic cost of uncollected household waste that is burned, dumped, or discharged to waterways to be US$375/tonne. For the same region, the World Bank estimated the integrated waste management costs for basic systems meeting good international hygienic standards to be US$50–US$100/tonne. Proper policies and effective management systems bring about the significant results felt both locally and globally. 2017 UNFCCC report admitted the progress in, from 1990 to 2015 the waste sector experienced the largest relative decrease in GHG emissions, at 20 percent, compared with other sectors. As for the commitments related to the implementation of Paris Agreement, more than 80 countries have identified solid waste management as an intervention area in their Nationally Determined Contributions.

At the same time an increase in global population, purchasing power in developing countries require a greater effort to keep waste under control both from the use of the natural resources view standpoint and the impact of the waste disposal on the environmental sustainability. 

Throughout the study, the World Bank makes recommendations and suggests the governments to take a holistic view of the waste management policies, that would definitely require a cross-sectoral approach to the problem in order to build effective and strong basic waste management systems; perform environmental impact assessment of the policies introduced at different governance levels; invest in education of citizenry to shape their consumption choices and behaviors; develop proper policy incentives for industries to reduce the use of the resources in production, innovate their production processes and disposal management systems and encourage to recycle and use the recycled materials.  The study contains a comprehensive overview of the case-studies both from developed and developing countries. 

By Katsiaryna Serada

A PROUD MEMBER OF 

SDSN+Youth+logo+(1).jpg

SDWatch.org is an independent, non-profit and student-led project initiated and managed by students and alumni of the LL.M in Sustainable Development at the University of Milan. It is supported by the Department of Italian and Supranational Public Law of the University.