Global municipal solid waste infrastructure: Delivery and forecast of uncontrolled disposal

Amani Maalouf, Antonis Mavropoulos, Mutasem El-Fadel

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    31 Scopus citations


    Proper management and treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) plays a central role towards the reduction or elimination of uncontrolled disposal and the achievement of United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the reduction of its vast adverse environmental and health impacts. Despite that, till now, there has never been a quantitative analysis of the progress in waste management infrastructure delivery worldwide. In this paper, we provide valuable insights regarding the progress in new MSW infrastructure delivery based on a dataset of 1764 projects from 156 countries, for the period 2014–2019. We also estimate the magnitude of uncontrolled waste disposal practices worldwide by estimating the gap between the current MSW infrastructure delivery and actual changes in MSW generation. Our results show that the new capacity delivered during the six years period amounted to 243 million metric tonnes (Mt) (40 million Mt per year), out of which 45% was delivered in high-income countries, 37.5% in the People’s Republic of China and 17.5% in the rest of the world, mainly through thermal treatment (~57%) and landfilling (8%). The average allocated per capita budget of these projects during this period is about US$14, equivalent to US$ 2.33 (cap*year)−1. Our main conclusion is that the share of uncontrolled disposal will continue to rise at least until 2028, reaching almost 730 million Mt per year. Evidently, the global community continues to face a serious challenge towards the implementation of the UN SDG 12, target 12.4 by 2020. The analysis demonstrates that infrastructure delivery must increase by four folds to eliminate uncontrolled disposal practices.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)1028-1036
    Number of pages9
    JournalWaste Management and Research
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


    • infrastructure delivery
    • landfilling
    • Municipal solid waste generation
    • uncontrolled disposal
    • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
    • waste treatment


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