The Trashman Cometh

Nate Berg looks at one of the overlooked challenges emerging from the world's rapid urbanization - the rise in municipal solid waste. A new report documents the problem.
June 15, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Lauded as centers for innovation, culture, and economic development, cities are also centers of garbage production, notes Berg, "and the amount of garbage they create is increasing even faster than their populations, according to a recent report [PDF] from the World Bank." This problem is especially acute in the developing world, where trash is, "becoming an environmental and economic catastrophe."

According to the report, the waste generated in cities worldwide has almost doubled in just the last 10 years, and is expected to continue to rise dramatically as urban populations increase, as will the costs associated with disposing of it.

"Municipal solid waste management is the most important service a city provides," the report notes. "A city that cannot effectively manage its waste is rarely able to manage more complex services such as health, education, or transportation Improving MSW is one of the most effective ways to strengthen overall municipal management and is usually a prerequisite for other, more complicated, municipal services."

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Published on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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