Low-Income Countries Collect Less Than Half of Urban Waste

World Bank Report Highlights Benefits of Improved Waste Collection & Recycling

Beyond individuals and households, proper waste collection and handling also represents a broader challenge that affects human health and livelihoods, the environment, and prosperity, according to a new report from the World Bank.

Image © World Bank

Beyond individuals and households, waste also represents a broader challenge that affects human health and livelihoods, the environment, and prosperity, according to a new report from the World Bank.

The study, What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050, noted that with over 90% of waste openly dumped or burned in low-income countries, it is the poor and most vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by poor waste collection and treatment.

Upper-middle and high-income countries provide nearly universal waste collection, and more than one-third of waste in high-income countries is recovered through recycling and composting.

However, in low-income countries collect about 48% of waste in cities, but only 26% in rural areas, and only 4% is recycled. Overall, 13.5% of global waste is recycled and 5.5% is composted.

The research suggests that it does indeed make economic sense to invest in sustainable waste management. Uncollected waste and poorly disposed waste have significant health and environmental impacts.

The cost of addressing these impacts was said to be many times higher than the cost of developing and operating simple, adequate waste management systems.

For example, in the Philippines investments are helping Metro Manila reduce flood risk by minimising solid waste ending up in waterways.

By focusing on improved collection systems, community-based approaches, and providing incentives, the waste management investments are contributing to reducing marine litter, particularly in Manila Bay.

Conclusions
According to the report, in an era of rapid urbanisation and population growth, solid waste management is critical for sustainable, healthy, and inclusive cities and communities. 

They also warn that if no action is taken, the world will be on a dangerous path to more waste and overwhelming pollution. Lives, livelihoods, and the environment would pay an even higher price than they are today.

The authors conclude that there are already many solutions already exist to reverse that trend. What is needed is urgent action at all levels of society. The time for action is now.

A video discussing the findings can be viewed below.

https://youtu.be/1CSm4GG2VrU

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