In a mess

Published: Sunday 31 March 2002

-- With urban and industrial development accelerating at a fast pace, waste disposal is becoming a major problem. Inordinate focus on household waste has often disguised the much larger volume generated by activities like manufacturing of goods. Industrialisation and level of affluence influence both the composition and quantity of waste. Research shows that in lower income regions of the world, 73 to 96 per cent of the typical family's waste comprises biodegradable materials, while in higher income areas the figure is 26 per cent. The link between affluence and municipal waste is surprisingly close: since 1980, 40 per cent increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd) has been accompanied by the same percentage growth in their municipal waste. Unless the link between waste generation and gdp is severed, there could be a commensurate increase in the levels of waste.

Not going strong

The OECDcountries are the best example of how development is intricately linked with an increase in waste levels

OECD countries Municipal waste
(kilos per capita)
of house-
(per cent)
(per cent)
(per cent)
Australia 690 400 id id id
Canada 630 310 19 6 75
Denmark 530 500 23 54 23
France 560 410 9 32 59
Hungary 420 270 7 93
Ireland 430 290 8 92
Italy 470 400 6 94
Japan 400 id 4 69 27
Portugal 350 id 12 88
Sweden 440 360 19 42 39
UK 490 460 7 10 83
USA 720 id 27 16 57

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.