The US produces far more garbage than it recycles, which is far less than other developed countries, according to a new analysis by the global risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft.
A new report by UK-based global risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft confirmed what has been a common belief. The United States of America is the world’s top producer of waste while also being the worst among industrialized nations at managing it.
The US generates 12 percent of global municipal waste—three times the global average—but only accounts for 4 percent of the world’s population, reads the report. The research indicates that at 773kg per head, American citizens produce over three times as much waste as their Chinese counterparts, while municipal waste generation per capita is four times higher in the United States than in India.
“The US is the only developed nation whose waste generation outstrips its ability to recycle, underscoring a shortage of political will and investment in infrastructure,” the firm said.
The US represents just 4% of the world’s population, but it produces 12% of global municipal solid waste. In comparison, China and India make up more than 36% of the world’s population and generate 27% of that waste.
The condition is to turn sour as the country finds itself at a crossroads as China and other developing countries refuse to continue to accept its waste, the report authors say. Worse still, of the staggering volumes of junk the country that created globalized consumer goods brand names such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, as well as the Black Friday sales, produces, only 35 percent are adequately recycled, the study shows.
But the US is not the only country that is bad at managing waste. While better than America at recycling, other industrialized countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, are also disproportionately responsible for waste generation, the study shows.
Asia, often made the scapegoat for the world’s plastic crisis, has undoubtedly contributed to marine plastic pollution, but such criticism has neglected the fact that Asian nations have traditionally served as the world’s trash dumps, with industrialized countries shipping their waste to the region for recycling to prevent their homelands from getting swamped by the goods they discard.
But, the study shows, this era is coming to an end. As waste importing countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, are moving to limit the material they accept or ban it outright following China’s foreign waste ban 18 months ago, industrialised nations must find ways to reduce the rate at which they devour resources and deal with their own plastic waste rather than dumping it in the developing world.
Will Nichols, head of environment at Verisk Maplecroft, said given that awareness of the impacts of waste is at a peak, it was not surprising that countries in the region were moving to halt imports of waste.
however, waste trade aside, domestic recycling rates in Southeast Asia are nothing to boast about too. Nichols said: “With the exception of Singapore and Taiwan, our recycling index shows waste is handled pretty poorly in Southeast Asia.”
“Every other nation in the region disposes of at least a third of its waste inadequately. Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines all mishandle over 80 percent of their waste,” he said.
The world generates over 2.1 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste each year – enough to fill 822,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to the report, but only 323 million tonnes (16 percent) are recycled and a staggering 950 million tonnes (46 percent) are disposed of unsustainably, the research has found.
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