By Gemma Childe on 8th Jun 2012
Litter in the world’s cities is becoming a “looming crisis” and is as daunting as global warming, according to the World Bank.
City dwellers worldwide are fast producing rubbish which will create huge financial and environmental burdens, according to a report called "What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management".
Urban specialists have warned the growing pile of waste from urban dwellers will create costs that will be especially high in poor countries, mainly in Africa.
In a report on "a relatively silent problem that is growing daily” released this week, the World Bank estimated city dwellers will generate 2.2 billion tonnes of waste a year by 2025, an increase of 70 per cent from today's level of 1.3 billion tonnes.
The cost of solid waste management is projected to soar to $375 billion a year, from the current $205 billion.
Dan Hoornweg, a senior urban specialist at the development lender and co-author of the report, said: "The challenges surrounding municipal solid waste are going to be enormous, on a scale of, if not greater than, the challenges we are currently experiencing with climate change.
"This report should be seen as a giant wake-up call to policy makers everywhere," he said.
China generates 70 per cent of the rubbish in the East Asia-Pacific region, which along with other parts of East Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East have the fastest-growing production of municipal solid waste.
The World Bank economists have asked for better waste management and recycling to combat greenhouse gas emissions, saying the old concept of "throwing away" waste no longer works.
"When 'throwing away' waste, system complexities and the integrated nature of materials and pollution are quickly apparent."
The report highlighted recycling and other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from inefficient solid waste management practices.
"Improving solid waste management, especially in the rapidly growing cities of low-income countries, is becoming a more and more urgent issue," said Rachel Kyte, vice president, Sustainable Development at the World Bank.