Solid profits in municipal waste

The Wordwatch Institute predicts the level of recyclable municipal waste globally could double from 1.3bn tons to 2.6bn tons annually by 2025, creating a significant set of business opportunities.

The research findings, published through the Vital Signs Online service, only considered waste such as organic material, paper, plastic,glass and metals. It did not consider waste collected outside recognised municipal programmes, nor did it inculde sewage, industrial waste or construction or demolition. It also did not include rural wastes.

Any opportunities associated with municipal solid waste (MSW) will be concentrated to the OECD, members, which generate 1.6m tons per day, or eight times as much generated in sub-Saharan Africa.


The size of their urban populations mean that Brazil, China, India and Mexico are among the biggest generators of MSW. However, even among the biggest generators of waste there are big differences. The US generates seven times as much MSW as France, for example.

Japan is considered one of the leaders in applying regulations to boost recycling. Since the early 1990s it has passed a series of laws intended to improve materials management. Measured by resource productivity – tons of material used per yen of gross domestic product – the country si on track to double its 1990s levels. One of the side effects is a significant decrease in waste sent to landfill. This is predicted to be a fifth of 1990s levels by 2015.

Copies of the report can be obtained from:


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