Waste-related emissions – including methane emissions from landfills – were calculated at 1.6 Gt in 2020.
This accounts for some 3% of total global greenhouse-gas emissions.

In that same year, global volumes of municipal solid waste were estimated at 2,000 megatonnes (Mt).

This figure is forecast to hit 3,400 Mt by 2050 – an increase of more than 70%.

The surge in municipal solid waste is being driven by population and GDP growth, which in turn are driving consumption. Average waste per person in a given country can be anywhere from 0.1kg/day to 4.5kg/day, with the global average standing at 0.74 kg/day.

The main emission source in the municipal waste sector is methane, which is released as organic material degrades in landfills. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential up to 34 times higher than that of CO2 in the coming 100 years. 

The other main contributors to emissions in this sector include plants for waste-water treatment and waste-to-energy. There are also the waste streams from industry and
agriculture – often up to 25 times higher than municipal waste streams. 

Paths towards decarbonization

Manufacturers, consumers and municipalities all have a role to play in preventing and reducing waste. This means designing products for re-use, recycling when facilities are available, and building effective waste-management systems. 

Biodegradable material can be used to generate energy, for example, instead of being dumped in a landfill to decompose and release methane. Waste-water process improvements can also reduce methane emissions. Finally, waste-to-energy plants can be fitted with carbon-capture equipment to close the loop.

How SFW is helping

We offer several waste-reduction and processing solutions. These include: