Better waste collection services and moving towards a more circular economy are some of the solutions put forward in the first report to look at the “mounting problem” of waste from a global perspective.
Global Waste Management Outlook – launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) offers an integrated global solution to the waste problem, including calling for immediate improvement of waste collection and disposal, preventing waste and maximising reuse and recycling of resources.
It also calls for a major shift away from the linear “take-make-use-waste” economy and towards the circular “reduce-reuse-recycle” approach to the lifecycle of materials.
It says inadequate waste management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem, with 7-10bn tonnes of urban waste produced each year and 3bn people worldwide lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities.
Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren, United Nations Environment Assembly – “Collectively we have the technological capacity to solve the global waste problem. Despite of this, a staggering 3bn people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal”
Fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, the volumes of waste are likely to even double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, the repot warns.
It encourages a shift in thinking about waste as merely a health and environmental threat, towards a broader concept of resource management. It demonstrates how wisely managing both resources and waste, countries can cut costs of waste disposal and bring additional profit from the recovered raw materials.
Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren, President of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) said: “Collectively we have the technological capacity to solve the global waste problem. Despite of this, a staggering 3bn people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal, with the result that wastes litter our streets with grave environmental and health consequences.
“This situation can be changed only if countries enforce proactive policies and sound institutions that encourage waste minimization and recycling,” she added. “Major producers should also be more involved in managing the entire lifecycle of their products. International cooperation will be vital in preventing developing countries from becoming dumping ground for hazardous materials.”
“An Urgent Response”
The report comes in conjunction with an ISWA report published yesterday (9 September) that calls for the world’s waste authorities to move to close dangerous dumpsites across the world.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “An urgent response to the world’s mounting waste problem is not only a public health and environmental necessity, but also a sound economic investment.
“Inaction is costing countries 5-10 times more than investments in proper waste management. A greater commitment by nations to systematically apply the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – can transform the problem of waste into a resource for our economies.
“The global waste management goals proposed by this report have the potential to result in dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, the creation of millions of green jobs and economic benefits in the hundreds of billions of dollars. By achieving them, we would also be taking massive strides toward realising the Sustainable Development Goals.”
David Newman, ISWA President, added: “This very first worldwide waste report really is a monumental work that has taken ISWA and UNEP experts two years to write. The Global Waste Management Outlook will help the waste management industry define its future over the next decade, and it also is an urgent call for action for investments to drive a global clean-up of the billions of tons of waste still dumped into our environment.”