Exponential growth in the amount of urban waste by 2025

Published in the dossier of April 2018

The warning dates back to 2012. In the most recent report* available to date, the World Bank predicts a 70% rise in the volume of municipal waste by 2025. It will primarily come from cities located in areas with high economic growth: South-East Asia, some Eastern European countries, and the Middle East. According to the institution, the production of urban waste will increase faster than urbanization and double by 2025, leaping from 1.3 to 2.2 billion metric tons per year. This trend has already been observed over the past several years, with the estimated average volume of waste produced per capita per day doubling from 0.64 kg to 1.2 kg between 2006 and 2016.

In another report*, the International Solid Waste Association states that the leading waste producers are small and island nations. These include Kuwait, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and Sri Lanka. In countries such as Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts, tourism and its associated activities are the mainstay of the economy but also the main source of waste production, which cannot be handled by the existing facilities.

Combined with climate change, the global challenges of managing municipal waste will be huge, despite the efforts made worldwide in terms of recycling and the responsible use of resources. Correctly managing waste is essential in order to build sustainable and livable cities and remains a major concern for many developing countries and cities.

*Sources: World Bank, “What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” report, June 2012 - International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), “Recycling Market & Research” report, September 2014