According to reports, India is now among the top 10 countries generating the highest amount of municipal solid waste due to growing urbanisation and high consumption, says a new report by Worldwatch Institute.
The US leads in generating such waste at 621,000 tonnes a day (approximately).
Globally, municipal solid waste is projected to grow to 2.6 billion tonnes from 1.3 billion tonnes at present, the report says, adding that wealthier nations are generating more municipal solid waste, than developing ones.
“Members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of 34 industrialised nations, lead the world in municipal solid waste generation, at nearly 1.6 million tonnes a day. By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa produces less than one-eighth as much,” says the report.
There are only four developing nations among the list of top 10 waste-generating countries – Brazil, China, India and Mexico. This is primarily because of the large size of their urban populations and because their city-dwellers are adopting high-consumption lifestyles, says the report.
“The share of inorganic materials in the waste stream, including plastics, paper, and aluminum, tends to increase as people grow wealthier and move to cities,” said the report’s author and Worldwatch Senior Fellow, Mr Gary Gardner.
The report notes that even among the top 10 countries, there is a wide range of output. For instance, the US generates nearly seven times more urban refuse than France, which is in the 10th position.
Municipal solid waste has been defined as organic material, paper, plastic, glass, metals, and other refuse collected by municipal authorities, largely from homes, offices, institutions, and commercial establishments. It does not include sewage, industrial waste, or construction and demolition waste generated by cities.
Calling for global effort to recycle waste, the report says the US Environmental Protection Agency claimed that recycling 8 million tonnes of metals eliminated more than 26 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of removing more than 5 million cars from the road for a year.