Preview | Michael Renner

As more people move to urban areas and as consumption levels rise, cities are producing ever-growing volumes of waste. In 2012, worldwide flows of garbage totaled some 1.3 billion tons, a figure that could rise to 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Cities generate large volumes of waste because they are home to high concentrations of people. But many other factors—from lifestyle choices to systems of production—influence how much waste, and what kind of waste, is generated.

Because municipalities generally are in charge of waste collection, it is in their economic and environmental self-interest to take action to reduce the waste streams entering landfills—and thus to limit the share of their own budgets absorbed by waste management operations. Can policies transition from waste management to waste avoidance?

“Cities are pursuing diverse strategies to deal with waste and are undertaking commendable efforts to divert materials from landfills.”

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