The amount of rubbish generated by city dwellers is set to rise steeply in the next two decades, with much of the increase coming in fast-growing cities in developing countries, according to a World Bank report published on Wednesday.
The report, What a Waste: a global review of solid waste management, for the first time provides data on municipal solid waste generation, collection, composition and disposal by country and by region.
The amount of municipal solid waste is growing fastest in China – which overtook the US as the world's largest waste generator in 2004 – other parts of east Asia, and parts of eastern Europe and the Middle East, the report says. Growth rates for rubbish in these areas are similar to their rates for urbanization and increases in GDP.
The report estimates the amount of municipal solid waste will rise from the current 1.3bn metric tons a year to 2.2bn by 2025. The annual cost of solid waste management is projected to rise from $205bn to $375bn, with cost increasing most sharply in poorer countries. The report's authors point to a looming crisis in waste treatment as living standards rise and urban populations grow.
The report notes that municipal solid waste management is the most important service a city provides. In poorer countries, rubbish collection and processing is often the largest single budget item for cities, and one of the largest employers.