Modern economies of the world are witnessing rising complexity and volumes of waste production and management. Various types of waste are produced and disposed of in landfills, while a small proportion of it is collected, recycled, or converted into some energy. Worse, some wastes are dumped inadequately—such as those lying in uncovered pits—thus, causing massive concerns of adverse ecological and environmental impacts. The entire ecosystem has been beset by lack of adequate infrastructure for sorting, collecting, and making it economically viable for recycling into some sort of commercially useful products. This presents vast opportunities for companies in the waste management market.
Sustainable Urban Development Warrants Economically and Effective Waste Management
The burgeoning volumes of waste generated every year from industrialized nations raise serious concerns for governments, industry players, and the population in general for various reasons. Solid waste poses considerable challenges for the entire value chain. For one, worldwide, the population is exposed to 11.2 billion tons of this myriad waste that arise broadly from industrial, residential, and commercial activities.
Waste generated from various sources are a massive contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas have been the major contributors. Consider these statistics: Waste generation in urban areas in a rapidly emerging economy such as India could reach 0.7 kg per person per day by 2025. Asia as a whole is projected to contribute approximately 9 billion tonnes per year by 2050-end. There have been several other glaring statistics that several studies have revealed. Consequently, policy makers have incentivized vast growth prospects for various industry stakeholders in the waste management market.
While at the outset, the wisest step unarguably is reducing or minimizing the production of waste; but, without doubt, this isn’t a practical or even a feasible option. The adage of a circular economy is based on three pillars ‘3R’—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle—and each has attracted wide-ranging initiatives and efforts by governments and firms in effective waste management. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), NGOs, players in private sector, and miscellaneous actors in informal sector have all been leaning on adopting methods for effective, long-term waste management through recycling. Policy makers and the academia have been working closely to define as to what could constitute a sustainable system for recycling, thus creating new revenue streams in the waste management market.
Recycling Attractive Massive Industry Interest
Recycling starts from waste segregation and ends in remanufacturing of useful production of desired value from the waste. In developing economies, waste generated from electronics, agricultural biomass, plastics is growing at an unprecedented pace, such as in Asian countries. Recovery of materials of significant market value and generating energy from waste first calls for defining most effective treatment for these waste and subsequently designing infrastructure. This has been expanding the avenues in the waste management market.
Even in developed economies of the world, e-waste (electronic waste) pose a tough challenge for reuse and recycle of materials from the waste on one hand, while preventing the ill effects of hazardous substances getting into ecology.
Solid waste, including municipal waste, are found to contain significant percentage of toxic and dangerous materials such as paints, pesticides, chemicals from used medicine and from batteries. While, both awareness about the adequate methods of sorting compostable organic waste from homes have been spreading far and wide. Municipal corporations have been instrumental in enforcing norms for collection, storage, and segregation, while taking an active part in transportation, processing, and disposal. The efforts have boosted the growth prospects of the waste management market.
Collaborations to Set the Wheel for Integrated Waste Management Practices
Often, international organizations have become more proactive in helping emerging economies adopt sustainable methods of waste management. A case in point is UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) promoting sustainable solutions in Japan. The organization has spearheaded a number of pilot projects in recent years, thus enriching investments in the waste management market.
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Stridently, public and private entities are looking for integrated waste management practices that are also economically viable for governments in developing economies. Meanwhile, for successful implementation of such programs, governments are increasingly emphasizing on active participation by the informal sector. The trend has significantly influenced the dynamics of the waste management market. Indeed, spending by public and private sector has risen for adequate transport and collection of waste. A case in point is huge money being spent on the collection and transport of municipal solid waste in India.
Despite the widespread attention of adopting sustainable waste management practices, the thing is easier said than adopted, let alone ensuring these measures are really environmentally sustainable. New technologies used by sorters and recyclers and new business models will set the stage for future growth trajectories in the waste management market. Thus, decentralised waste management practices have been generating interest among communities and governments.