Global garbage crisis

July 12, 2019


THE world is drowning in a whirlwind of trash. People are producing an unimaginable 5.8 million tonnes of trash every day making huge mountains of more than 2.12 trillion tonnes of garbage each year.

An average person generates about 0.80 kg garbage daily. In Pakistan, about 60,000 tonnes of waste is produced every day. By the end of this century the projected size of global garbage will reach more than four trillion tonnes annually. This trash problem is not only causing air, water and land pollution, people are also being exposed to hazardous substances.

According to estimates, there are more than five trillion plastic waste particles in the oceans equivalent to the weight of 270,000 tonnes.

Main causes of piles of garbage are uncontrolled urbanisation, unchecked industrialisation, unguided technological advancement, rapid population growth, imprudent consumerism by affluent consumers and above all unsystematic waste management.

It is estimated that there are more than 4.5 billion consumers worldwide. They seem to be on a phenomenal extravaganza at an estimated amount of more than $30 trillion per annum. It is said that an average person throws away more than 90pc of goods within one year of purchase.

A large chunk of money is consumed to manage piles of garbage by landfills and incinerators. Only the USA incurs a cost of $200 billion a year to manage its trash. Top most trash-producing countries in the world are the USA followed by Germany, Brazil and China. They collectively generate around one million tonnes of waste each day i.e. about 20pc of the total waste in the world.

This means that the more developed a country becomes, the more garbage producing it becomes. Many countries have converted these piles of waste into a useful resource with sound waste management systems by reusing, recycling, using waste to generate energy, and moving towards a green economy by creating green companies and green jobs. Piles of trash can become piles of gold if managed in a proper way.

It is high time for Pakistan to take effective steps to manage its alarming amount of trash before its gets out of control and lead to garbage crisis.

Muhammad Nadeem Butt


National Vocational & Technical Training Commission


Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019