Preview | Perinaz Bhada-Tata and Daniel Hoornweg

Municipal solid waste is linked inextricably to urbanization. Local waste managers are at the forefront of dealing with this global trend—or being overwhelmed by it. Inadequate waste collection and uncontrolled dumping contribute to local environmental and public health problems, as well as to ocean pollution. Besides these impacts, solid waste contributes to climate change. Globally, landfills account for 11 percent of methane emissions.

The waste sector can contribute substantially to greenhouse gas reductions through various policies and technologies that already exist and are proven. Technology transfer, higher public awareness, and thoughtfully implemented policies can encourage the shift toward greater sustainability. An integrated approach can benefit local communities and—because local decisions have global ramifications—the planet at large.

“Urbanization fuels economic growth, savings, and improved standards of living. But with improved living standards comes increased consumption.”

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