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Visualizing the Global Landfill Crisis



The following content is sponsored by Northstar Clean Technology

Visualizing the Global Landfill Crisis

In a world that generates 2 billion tonnes of waste every year, landfill management has become a global concern.

Reusing, remanufacturing, and recycling materials have become essential in minimizing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The above infographic from Northstar Clean Technologies highlights how waste management has become a multibillion-dollar industry opportunity.

The Largest Contributor to Global Waste

The world produces enough solid waste to fill over 800,000 Olympic sized swimming pools every year. Waste generated per person averages 0.74 kilograms per day.

Below, we show the regions that generate the most waste, measured in millions of tonnes. Asia, Europe, and North America are the top waste generators, respectively.

Region2016 Waste Generation (Millions of tonnes)2030 Waste Generation (P)2050 Waste Generation (P)
Middle East and North Africa 129177255
Sub-Saharan Africa174269516
Latin American and Caribbean 231290369
North America 289342396
South Asia334466661
Europe and Central Asia392440490
East Asia and Pacific 468602714

The U.S. ranks number one in per-capita waste by country, producing 12% of the world’s trash despite only accounting for 4% of its population.

On average, a U.S. resident produces over three times as much waste as a Chinese resident and seven times more than a person living in Ethiopia.

Approximately half of the 230 million tonnes of yearly waste in the U.S. will meet its final resting place in one of the more than 2,000 active landfills across the country. That’s the equivalent to 22 billion plastic bottles every year, or enough office paper to construct a 12-foot-high wall from Los Angeles to Manhattan.

With solid waste steadily climbing over the last decades, many landfills across the country are already running out of space.

Construction Waste

A big part of landfill waste comes from the construction industry.

In a 2018 research, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that total waste from construction-related projects was double that of municipal waste from households and businesses.

Every year, 12 million tons of used asphalt shingles are dumped into landfills across North America.

As a result, solid waste landfills are already the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S., behind energy production and agriculture.

SourceU.S. Methane Emissions
Natural Gas and Petroleum30%
Enteric Fermentation (digestive process in ruminant animals)27%
Municipal Solid Waste Landfills 15%
Manure Management 9%
Other 9%
Coal Mining 7%
Other Landfills 2%

*Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding

In this context, repurposing waste has not only become essential to minimizing waste, but also to creating new business opportunities going forward.

A Multibillion-Dollar Industry Opportunity

The global waste recycling market is expected to grow considerably in the coming years as awareness about environmental impacts increases.

By 2027, it is forecast that the global waste recycling services market will have reached a value of $80.3 billion.

Northstar Clean Technologies aims to become the leading recovery and reprocessing company for asphalt shingles in North America.

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