US waste driving global garbage glut, study shows

James Marshall
July 5, 2019

Germany is the most efficient country, recycling 68 per cent of material.

The world produces more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste every year, enough to fill more than 800,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Waste management, recycling, and ambitious green initiatives have been big news in Canada over the last couple of months. Americans only reuse 35% of the solid waste they produce. Municipal solid waste (MSW) is all the rubbish collected from homes, businesses and institutions.

Just 16 per cent of this (323 million tonnes) is recycled, while 950 million tonnes is disposed of "unsustainably", according to risk management firm Verisk Maplecroft.

This is over three times the global average and more than seven times that of Ethiopia, the least wasteful nation.

Canada had a relatively strong score, with the country's total garbage equating to a less than 2 per cent share of global waste production.

Other European countries, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Germany, feature on the list.

The UK ranks 14 in the WGI, with its residents generating 482 kgs of household waste each per year.

The United States was singled out for its inability, relative to other developed nations, to recycle its waste.

"With the world's attention firmly fixed on the problem of waste, we expect governments to act, with businesses footing the bill", says Niall Smith, senior environmental analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.

"I think you see in survey after survey that infrastructure in the USA just isn't there to provide the recycling option", said Will Nichols, Verisk Maplecroft's head of environmental research, according to the BBC.

"I think you see in survey after survey that infrastructure in the U.S. just isn't there to provide the recycling option", said Will Nichols, head of environmental research at Verisk Mapelcroft.

NEW YORK, July 4 ― The United States is driving a worldwide waste boom that poses a severe risk to human health, the environment and the economy, according to anew study of global garbage trends published yesterday.

"A lot of USA waste - now that it can't get shipped to China - is just getting burnt, there just isn't the investment in place in infrastructure to deal with this problem". There have been tensions between the government of the Philippines which sent back 69 shipping containers containing waste to Canada. The company used publicly-available data, as well as academic research, to develop a picture of how the countries of the world are coping with their waste.

Given the USA is the world's largest economy, it may not be surprising that it is one of the largest producers of household waste, but what is significant is its lack of commitment to offsetting its waste footprint, according to Verisk Maplecroft.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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