Currently, about 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced annually worldwide. The World Bank estimates overall waste generation will increase to 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. An estimated 13.5% of today’s waste is recycled and 5.5% is composted. The report estimates that between one-third and 40% of waste generated worldwide is not managed properly and instead dumped or openly burned.
Rich countries (such as the United States, Canada and members of the European Union) represent just 16% of global population, but produce 34% of the world’s waste. An estimated 93% of waste in low-income countries is mismanaged, as compared to 2% in high-income countries.
The concept of zero waste goes beyond recycling and composting at the end of a product’s life cycle, to encompass the entire life cycle of a product, beginning with product design, and envisioning the use and management of materials in ways that preserve value, minimize environmental impacts, and conserve natural resources.