Waste is generated in all sorts of ways. Its composition and volume largely depend on consumption patterns and the industrial and economic structures in place. Air quality, water and soil contamination, space consumption and odors all affect our quality of life. Waste is a complex, subjective and sometimes controversial issue. There are many ways to define, describe and count it depending on how you look at it. Citizens, technicians, businessmen, politicians, activists; all of them use a different approach, and this explains why it is often a challenge to gather comparable data. From one country to the next, statistical definitions vary a lot. It is notably difficult, for example, to compare waste in rich and poor countries. The topic is also sometimes political, especially when it comes to the trade and disposal of hazardous and nuclear wastes. All waste data should therefore be handled with care.
From collection: Vital Waste Graphics
Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal