Verisk Maplecroft, a research firm that specialises in global risk, has calculated that every year, over two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste is produced throughout the world which would be able to fill up more than 800,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
The study further found that the Americans are the leaders in waste production per capital as they generate about thrice the amount of garbage every year that includes plastic and food. Further, the United States also lags behind many countries in terms of recycling. The country is able to recycle and re-use only about 35 per cent of its solid waste while Germany – with 68 per cent recycling capacity of materials, Germany tops the list.
Verisk Maplecroft has developed two new indices related to waste generation and recycling and the study was conducted using data that was publicly available. The report also made use of academic research for the creation of the picture about the waste situation in countries. This report comes at a time when there is a grave danger to the global environment from plastic waste.
The per capita rates of municipal solid waste, plastic, food and hazardous materials is reflected in the waste generation index for countries. Municipal solid waste is rubbish that’s collected by local authorities from residential, institutional and commercial sources.
The report found that every year, about 2.1bn tones of waste is produced by the world. But only about 16 per cent of it is recycled while 46 per cent of the waste is disposed off in an unsustainable manner.
27 per cent of the global waste is produced by China and India even though they make up 36 per cent of the global population, the study found.
About 12 per cent of the global waste is produced by the US with 773kg of waste being produced per head of population every year. That number is three times higher than that of China and seven times greater than what an average person in Ethiopia produces.
The only develop country in the world that has less recycling capabilities compared ot the waste generated is the US.
“Where the US is doing badly is the relationship between what it generates and its capacity to recycle,” said Niall Smith, one of the authors of the report. “And relative to it’s high income peers, that’s where it is performing poorly.”
Political will and infrastructure are both responsible for the lack of capacity for recycling in the US, the report noted.
“I think you see in survey after survey that infrastructure in the US just isn’t there to provide the recycling option,” said Will Nichols, head of environmental research at Verisk Mapelcroft.
“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.”
“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.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)