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2024 Global Waste Management Outlook

Report Highlights Projected Increases of Uncontrolled Waste into 2050 

In February, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), released the Global Waste Management Outlook 2024 report, which offers projections on global waste generation, costs, and management for municipal solid waste (MSW, excluding industrial waste). Here, “controlled waste” refers to waste that is collected and either properly disposed of or recycled. “Uncontrolled waste” refers to either uncollected waste that is dumped or burned in the open or collected waste that is dumped or burned at its final destination. 

Global Waste Management Outlook
  1. Some 2.7 billion people (700,000 from urban areas and 2 billion from rural areas) do not have their waste collected. 

  2. If no urgent actions are taken, global MSW generation per year is projected to steadily increase, from 2.126 billion tons in 2020 to 3.782 billion tons in 2050. 

  3. The total global cost of MSW in a “waste management as usual” scenario is projected to increase from $361.0 billion in 2020 to $640.3 billion in 2050  

  4. Out of the 2.126 billion tons in 2020, 38% (about 805 million tons) was uncontrolled and 62% (about 1.32 billion tons) was controlled. Among controlled waste, 48.5% (about 641.2 million tons) was landfilled, 30.6% (about 404.2 million tons) was recycled, and 20.8% (about 274.8 million tons) were converted to energy. 

  5. The global share of uncontrolled waste is projected to rise from 38% in 2020 to 41.5% in 2050. However, over three decades, the actual amount of uncontrolled waste is projected to almost double from about 805 million tons to 1.57 billion tons annually.  

  6. Globally, the average MSW collection rate is 75%. In Western countries, this rate is very high—93% to 99%—while rates are considerably lower in Sub-Saharan Africa (36%), Central and South Asia (37%), and Oceania (45%). 

  7. The three lowest regions of MSW collection also have the highest uncontrolled waste as percentage of total MSW. These are Sub-Saharan Africa (87%), Central and South Asia (79%), and Oceania (62%). 

  8. Europe leads the world in MSW recycling, thanks to Western Europe’s 56% rate. Northern and Southern Europe are third and fourth at 42% and 44%, respectively. However, Australia and New Zealand are second at 54% recycling rates. 

  9. Northern Europe also has the highest MSW waste-to-energy conversion rate of 42%.  



Full report:

Executive summary: 


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