Warning: Waste will suffocate the planet

English Section / 1 martie

Warning: Waste will suffocate the planet

Versiunea în limba română

The volume of waste in the world, estimated at 2.3 billion tons in 2023, will continue to grow exponentially if no action is taken, with a massive impact on health and economies, the UN has warned. At this rate, current waste should reach 3.8 billion tons by the middle of this century, exceeding the predictions of a previous report prepared on this topic by the World Bank. The crisis will be all the more acute as the growth is expected to be particularly high in countries where waste treatment remains a polluting activity: landfilling (soil pollution, pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane), incineration no recovery. Their direct and indirect cost should almost double and reach 640 billion dollars per year by 2050, according to the new report written by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), considered at the same time "a guide and a call to action". In 2020, the direct cost of waste treatment was estimated at 252 billion dollars (361 billion dollars if indirect costs related to pollution generated by unsuitable facilities or management methods are also included). There is an "urgent need" to start "drastically reducing waste" and investing in the circular economy, the UN urged at the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi this week . "We must act to avoid the worst scenario", added its representatives. Keeping waste "under control", especially through better treatment methods, could limit its net annual cost to $270 billion by 2050. But it is possible to go even further, by moving to a true circular economy, to better practices of industrial producers and to a complete management of residual waste, all of which could even generate a net gain of over 100 billion dollars per year, advocated the authors of the new report, entitled "Transforming waste into resources". "Many fast-growing economies are debating the growing weight of waste," said UNEP director Inger Andersen, also emphasizing the "key role" of public and private actors, who can find opportunities to create more viable societies.

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