Special Report

Countries That Produce the Most Waste

Municipal solid waste management (MSW) is the most important service a city or state or nation can provide. MSW, or trash, is waste generated from companies, buildings, institutions, small businesses, houses, and yards. Waste is disposed of by placing it in landfills, incinerating, composting, or recycling it. Management of municipal waste is the largest budget item for cities, and it employs many workers. The World Bank estimates that the planet generates about 2 billion tons of trash every year.

Many of the nations that produce the most waste are island countries, whose economies are dependent on tourism. Places such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands are playgrounds for sunseekers, and the trash these visitors leave behind is pushing the limits of the host countries’ ability to dispose of it. Each day, these countries generate several pounds of waste per person, not including the waste that gets recycled or composted.

Some of these nations and territories recycle a large portion of their waste, but still generate among the most net waste per capita. The Faroe Islands, located in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Scotland, recycle over two-thirds of the area’s total waste output. Some nations do not have the same level of responsible waste management. Monaco recycles or composts just 5.4% of its trash, for example, and several nations and territories on this list do even less.

Many of the nations on this list are among the most affluent in the world, and include Monaco and Bermuda, both of whom have gross national income per capita above $100,000. Higher-income countries like Singapore, which generates 2.9 pounds of daily waste per capita and is 23rd on our list, tend to have a higher rate of recycled or composted waste than lower-income nations, according to World Bank data.

Using World Bank data, 24/7 Wall St. determined the countries and territories producing the most waste per capita per day after subtracting the total amount recycled or composted. All data included in this report came from the World Bank’s What a Waste Global Database. This database contains the most recent available data, which varies from country to country.

Click here to see the countries that produce the most waste.

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