By 2025, the amount and cost of garbage that developing country cities will have to manage will increase dramatically. These cities are already juggling growing populations, a lack of financial resources, and a limited ability to manage environmental issues. This is also reflected in solid waste management in Malaysia and municipal solid waste management in Malaysia.
According to a recent report from the World Bank’s Urban Development department, municipal solid waste (MSW) production will increase from the current annual rate of 1.3 billion tonnes to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. A large portion of the growth will occur in cities in developing nations that are urbanising quickly.
The cost of this necessary solid waste management is expected to increase from its current level of $205 billion annually to $375 billion annually, with cities in low-income countries expected to bear the brunt of the cost increases.
For the first time, consolidated information on MSW generation, collection, composition, and disposal by nation and region is provided in the report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.
This is a success in and of itself because, as the report notes, there is a lack of accurate global MSW data as well as information that is inconsistent, incomplete, and unreliable. However, the authors of the report warn that as living standards rise and urban populations increase, a crisis in MSW treatment is imminent.
According to Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, “Improving solid waste management is becoming an increasingly urgent issue, especially in the rapidly expanding cities of low income countries.”
The report’s findings are depressing, but they also provide hope that, once the scope of the problem is understood, local and national leaders as well as the international community will mobilise to set up programmes to reduce, reuse, recycle, or recover as much waste as possible before burning it (and recovering the energy) or otherwise disposing of it. “A crucial first step in solving the problem is determining its scope.”
Waste management is a sign of a city’s services.
The most significant service that a city offers is municipal solid waste management, according to the report. MSW is frequently the single largest budget item for cities in low-income nations, as well as one of the biggest employers. It is rare for a city to be able to manage more complicated services like health, education, or transportation if it cannot efficiently manage its waste. One of the best ways to strengthen overall municipal management is to improve MSW.
According to the report, China, which surpassed the United States as the world’s top waste producer in 2004, other regions of East Asia, as well as a portion of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, are experiencing the fastest increases in the amount of municipal solid waste. The rates of urbanisation and GDP growth in these regions are comparable to the growth rates of MSW.
The amount of waste produced per capita in cities and the level of per capita income are directly correlated. In general, the consumption of inorganic materials (such as plastics, paper, glass, and aluminium) rises while the relative organic fraction declines as a nation urbanises and its people become wealthier.
According to Dan Hoornweg, lead urban specialist in the World Bank’s Finance, Economics, and Urban Development Department and co-author of the report, “What we’re finding in these numbers is not that surprising.” “However, what is surprising is that when the numbers are added up, we’re looking at a relatively silent problem that is getting worse every day. Municipal solid waste will present enormous challenges that are comparable to—if not even greater than—the problems caused by climate change. This report ought to serve as a massive wake-up call for all policymakers.
According to the report’s authors, for cities to approach solid waste in a comprehensive way, they must have an integrated solid waste management plan. Consultation with and feedback from all interested parties, including citizen groups and those advocating for the underprivileged and the poor, is essential to the success of such a plan. Any such plan must also take public health and environmental protection into account.
The report outlines policy recommendations for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, a significant portion of which are caused by ineffective solid waste management techniques. According to estimates, nearly 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from post-consumer waste, while 12% of all methane emissions come from landfills. According to the study, several doable strategies could be used in most cities, including:
- the general public’s knowledge of their options to decrease waste production and increase recycling and composting;
- pricing mechanisms to encourage consumer behaviour to decrease waste generation and increase recycling, such as product charges;
- User fees based on the amount of waste disposed of, with (for instance) consumers disposing of recyclables paying a lower fee; and/or
- Preferred procurement policies and pricing to encourage demand for goods made from recycled post-consumer waste.
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