It’s estimated that, on average, each person in the world produces about 0.74kg of solid waste (trash/garbage) daily . But there is a large range – from an average of 0.46kg in Sub-Saharan Africa to 2.21kg in North America [1,13]!
Indeed, high income countries account for only 16% of the global population but generate 34% of the world’s municipal waste (i.e. waste produced by the public) [1,2]. The USA has a particular responsibility for waste: home to just 4% of the population, the country generates 12% of global waste . You could call this ‘waste inequality’.
The serious environmental impacts of waste, are not necessarily felt by those who produce it. For example: > Waste disposal and treatment accounted for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, contributing to the climate crisis  > Liquid leaking from landfill can contaminate drinking water [4,5] > Rubbish (especially plastic) can harm wildlife . Plastic pollution has increased 10-fold since 1980, although it remains a smaller threat to nature than climate change, hunting, fishing, and conversion of natural habitat to farmland .
Global consumption of materials has more than tripled since 1970 . If past trends continue, as countries become richer they will consume more  and produce more waste . Total waste generation in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is expected to triple by 2050 .
To minimise the negative impacts on nature, the climate and people, we need to produce less waste and deal with the waste we produce more responsibly [1,10]. Two of the key needs for addressing this are changes to personal lifestyles [11,12], and investment by governments in dealing with waste responsibly (waste management usually costs over $100 per tonne in high-income countries) .
In our next posts we’ll look at different ways of dealing with waste – how good is recycling as a way to deal with waste, or should we burn it to generate power?
 https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/us-tops-list-of-countries-fuelling-the-mounting-waste-crisis/ See: Share of global population and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) for G20 countries
 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0043135412002771 See: Introduction
 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X15002985 See: Abstract
 https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4783129/Summary%20for%20Policymakers%20IPBES%20Global%20Assessment.pdf?__hstc=&__hssc=&hsCtaTracking=91fd55c1-7918-40d1-a145-73e8dab568a9%7C67bf054a-fcc7-448e-9235-42416b2b6e88 See: Figure 2 and Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years, point 10
 https://rare.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2018-CCNBC-Report.pdf See: The opportunity of human consumption for reducing global emissions
 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567115003743 See: Abstract
 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Waste-factsheet.pdf See: What can be done to reduce emissions in this sector?
 https://iges.or.jp/en/publication_documents/pub/technicalreport/en/6719/15_Degree_Lifestyles_MainReport.pdf See: E.g. What we found – targets and gaps
 https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ieam.1614?casa_token=A8U7Bl4OOFEAAAAA%3Au2XJQ2Lbv7s-TKktECrUZtqOMxhQqWhw6XcgB-ACH9Br8Vc3_OgIFR-WlsKdSCBe4ZikhpDy_xockw See: E.g. Abstract and Average avoided impacts for representative products
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