A new report commissioned by Environmental services company Veolia has stated that the world market for waste, from collection to recycling, is worth around 300 billion Euros (US $410 billion). The report author Philippe Chalmin, professor of economic history at Paris-Dauphine University said that four billion tonnes of municipal, industrial and hazardous waste are produced every year, and said that these figures are just a ‘guesstimate, nothing more’ as data is difficult to gather, particularly in developing countries.
The report titles ‘From Waste to Resource’ is the second report of this type from Veolia.
Waste production is closely correlated with GDP, Chalmin said, but collection, recovery and recycling rates vary enormously between countries. Poland sends about 90% of its municipal waste to landfill sites, but the Netherlands disposes just 1.7% of its waste this way. Japan incinerates the most municipal waste (74%) while South Korea has the best recycling rate for municipal waste (49%).
Availability of land and the suitability of soils are a major factor in deciding whether to landfill waste, Chalmin said, but ecological awareness, legal constraints, degree of economic development and climatic factors also determine the choice of disposal or recovery route.