This is a guest post by Dan Hoornweg of the World Bank on the report written by him and Perinaz Bhada, Adviser of WTERT - India and EEC Research Associate.
Ask any city manager or mayor what their top priority is and you’re likely to get ‘solid waste’ as an answer. You would think in today’s age we would have solved the waste management challenge and moved on to the next slightly more glamorous municipal service. Not so; and more than ever cities now need to pick it up a notch on solid waste management.
Solid waste is still probably the world’s most pressing environmental challenge. In poorer countries, solid waste can use up to more than half of a city’s overall budget; around the world there are more solid waste workers than soldiers; and despite the more than $225 billion spent every year on solid waste, in many low income countries less than half the waste is collected in cities.
This week’s release of What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management highlights the pressing need for better waste management, especially in low-income country cities. Currently cities generate about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste per year. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. The impact is most severe in low-income country cities where management costs are expected to increase more than five-fold. And most low-income cities are already having trouble dealing with today’s waste management challenges, leave alone handling the expected increases.