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Waste: An Introduction to this Year’s Global Topic

Solid waste management affects every single person in the world, whether individuals are managing their own waste or governments are providing waste management services to their citizens. As nations and cities urbanize, develop economically, and grow in terms of population, the World Bank estimates that waste generation will increase from 2.47 billion tons in 2020 to 4.28 billion tons in 2050. At least 33% of today’s waste is mismanaged globally.

There are many different types of waste that are encompassed within this topic, from managing trash on an individual or household level to looking at large-scale industrial and mining waste.

When we mismanage waste, it has health consequences through water, soil, and air contamination. Hazardous waste or unsafe waste treatment, such as open dumping or burning, can directly harm waste workers and neighboring communities. Vulnerable groups such as children are at increased risk of poor health outcomes. Inadequate waste collection also leads to environmental and marine pollution.

Because mismanagement of waste disproportionately affects those in low-income areas, tackling this problem is central to achieving greater environmental equity throughout the world.

Learn more about Waste by reading the full topic overview.

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