Major cities generate more than 2 billion tonnes of waste every year. In cities, there is junk hauling services that remove and dispose of junk in residential homes, commercial properties and construction sites. However, at least one-fourth of the population do not have access to a proper waste collection system. In low income countries, people have to burn or dump most of their solid waste.
According to poverty charity Tearfund, poor countries have to shoulder the burden of global waste habits. In developing countries, between 400,000 and 1 million people die each year because of mismanaged waste. Waste is piling up faster in countries without proper waste management systems.
However, when a country becomes more prosperous, trash cans become increasingly full. To add to the problem, rapid urbanization and population growth makes trash collection more challenging. For local administrators in poorer settings, waste management is their single biggest expenditure.
Plastic problem is challenging the world. Plastics end up in landfills and oceans to harm wildlife and reduce the revenues of those dependent on farming and fishing. In developing countries, one third of their cattle and one half of the goat population have consumed significant amounts of plastic which results to bloating or death from starvation.
Plastics have found their way to coral reefs and other natural destinations to harm the ecosystem and become an eyesore to tourists. In May 2019, most countries have signed to a UN pact to reduce export of hard-to-recycle plastics but many developed countries still export their postconsumer plastic waste to poorer countries.
In places where there is no formal waste management system, waste pickers sort through dumpsites to discover reusable items that they can sell. Waste picking provides employment and income to some of the world’s urban populations. Some of the poorest people in society earn from waste while municipalities reduce their waste collection costs.
One of the solutions to address the growing amount of waste in the environment is circular economy. It is a system that minimizes waste by taking advantage of what is available to transform how resources are managed. A circular economy can change the way the people look at waste, reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the amount of materials that are incinerated or thrown away.