The municipal solid waste produced by the world every year is sufficient enough to fill more than 800,000 Olympic sized swimming pools and accounts for more than two billion tonnes.
In this global waste crisis, the worst offenders are the US residents per head of population. Americans produce three times the average of waste produced globally, including food and plastic.
Moreover, in the case of recycling also, America again falls far behind other countries re-using only 35% of solid waste.
The most efficient country is Germany, recycling 68% of the material.
“This is a demonstration that we’re going to comply with our international obligations to deal with waste that originates in Canada,” Sean Fraser, Canada’s parliamentary secretary to the environment minister, told the BBC.
Glastonbury festival with the theme of Climate change and the environment banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles.
Verisk Maplecroft, which is a research firm that specializes in global risk, has compiled the study.
They have developed two new indices on waste generation and recycling.
They’ve also developed a global picture using data available publically along with academic research on how countries are coping at a time during a mounting crisis of the world, primarily due to plastic.
The index of waste generation shows per capita rates of municipal solid waste, food, plastic, and hazardous materials.
Municipal solid waste is the rubbish collected by local authorities from residential, commercial, and institutional sources.
Out of the 2.1bn tonnes of this rubbish the world produces every year, only 16% is recycled while 46% gets disposed of in an unsustainable manner.
China and India comprise more than 36% of the global population and account for about 27% of the waste generated as per the analysis.
Every citizen in the US produces 773kg, which is roughly 12% of the total waste globally, and that is thrice that of their Chinese counterparts and seven times more than the population in Ethiopia.
According to the waste index, the UK ranks 14th, generating 482kg of household waste per person each year. Other European countries featuring on the list include France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The US is the sole developed nation that generates waste in excess of its recycling ability.
Niall Smith, one of the authors of the report said, “Where the US is doing badly is the relationship between what it generates and its capacity to recycle.”
“And relative to it’s high income peers, that’s where it is performing poorly.”
When we consider recycling in the US, the issue seems to be primarily political will and infrastructure.
Will Nichols, head of environmental research at Verisk Maplecroft said, “I think you see in survey after survey that infrastructure in the US just isn’t there to provide the recycling option.”
“A lot of US waste – now that it can’t get shipped to China – is just getting burnt, there just isn’t the investment in place in infrastructure to deal with this problem.”
Since the waste imports got banned in China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, it is changing the global dynamic. The Philippines has sent back 69 shipping containers to Canada containing waste and created tensions between the governments.
“They (Asian countries) don’t want to be the world’s dumping ground anymore,” said Will Nichols.
“There’s a growing middle class who are not happy with levels of pollution and China because of its political situation has the policy levers to address these issues more quickly than others.”
There may be a rocky road ahead mainly for businesses as the report suggests. Verisk Maplecroft expects governments will act on waste issues; however, companies will be footing the bill.