Trash as far as the eye can see: Worldwide waste production could increase 3X by 2100

Landfill photo
CC BY-ND 2.0 Flickr

We can't keep doing 'business as usual'

We produce a lot of trash. While many make efforts to reduce what they send to the landfill, and useful materials are more recycled now than ever before, the amount of waste produced every year keeps going up fairly rapidly:

Every day, we generate over 3.5 million tons of solid waste—a tenfold increase over the past century. That figure will likely double again by 2025. On our current path, it could balloon to over 11 million tons per day by 2100, a tripling of today's rate, with sub-Saharan Africa fueling most of the growth. (source)

This is based on a new study that looks at 3 different scenarios, trying to determine when we would reach "peak trash". The "business as usual" scenario is described above, with a tripling of waste production to 11 million tons per day at the peak in 2100.

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The worst scenario "assumes a future in which the world is starkly divided among regions of extreme poverty, moderate wealth and bare subsistence. Little to no progress has been made in addressing pollution and other environmental problems, and global development goals have abjectly failed to come to fruition. Acute poverty and poor education converge to drive the population up to a staggering 13.5 billion, of which only 70 percent is urbanized. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, waste production increases by only 1 million relative to [business as usual]—to 12 million tons per day."

In the best scenario, waste production peaks around 8.4 million tons per day by 2075. In that world, human population stabilizes at 7 billion and 90% are living in cities. "People are more educated and environmentally aware, and poverty levels in developing countries are at an all-time low."

The future is not written, though. We have to build our own world with our actions and by raising awareness and convincing others that they can have an impact.

Via Ars Technica

See also: It turns out cat poop-coffee is not just weird, it's also cruel (video)

Tags: Africa | Waste