Largest Waste Producers

    There are many ways to categorize and analyze waste. 

    The World Bank, an international financial institution, has ranked the top 5 waste producing countries, based on their total agricultural waste, construction and demolition, e-waste, hazardous waste, industrial waste, medical waste, and municipal solid waste. (based in 2018 information- the last year this data was compiled)

    1-Canada – total waste generation is the largest in the entire world with an annual waste per capita of 36.1 metric tons from it’s 36.7 million people

    2- Bulgaria – a large construction industry is the reason this country makes the list with a population of only 7 million people

    3- United States – produces the most municipal waste (everyday items discarded by households) in the world from over 326 million people, comprising approximately 121 million households

    4- Estonia – with a population of only 1.3 million, one third of its waste is hazardous waste, generated by the oil shale sector

    5- Finland – one of the richest countries, with 5.5 million people, made the list due to a housing sector boon and increase demand for new commercial and private construction

    Waste Producers by Industry

    Some industries, just by their nature, produce more waste than others. 

    These are some of the top offenders:

    Construction, Demolition, and Renovation

    Dry Cleaning

    Educational & Vocational Shops

    Equipment Repair

    Furniture Manufacturing and Refinishing

    Laboratories

    Leather Manufacturing

    Motor Freight and Railroad Transportation

    Pesticide End Users and Application Services

    Photo Processing

    Printing

    Textile Manufacturing

    Vehicle Maintenance

    A lot of countries have some form of regulation about how certain types of waste should be handled, especially toxic waste. 

    But outside of those regulated toxins, it is up to the individual companies within each industry to decide how to reduce and recycle their waste, or just send it all to a landfill. 

    Unfortunately these decisions are not always made with the environment in mind, but with what costs the least money to do.

    In fact Global Waste Management has become a growing billion dollar industry all on its own. I just fear that growing profits will get in the way of doing what is right for the environment.

    Plastics

    We need to take a moment to look at plastic waste separately. In my lifetime, single use plastic has become the number one enemy of the environment, and they are everywhere.

    The United States and the United Kingdom, are the top two producers of plastic waste in the world. 

    The companies that make all this plastic are household names:

    Coca-Cola

    PepsiCo

    Unilever

    Nestlé

    Procter & Gamble

    Mondeléz International

    Philip Morris International

    Danone

    Mars

    Colgate-Palmolive

    And this list does not include the oil and chemical countries that produce the raw plastic, nor the financial institutions that support them. That list includes other well known names like ExxonMobil, Dow Chemicals, Barclays, HSBC and Bank of America.

    Environmental Responsibility of Producers

    Many countries are now considering policies that will put part of the responsibility for waste on the companies that produce that waste. They are calling it Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and the responsibility can be either financial (paying for waste disposal, recycling, etc) or physical (actually recycling or properly disposing of the waste). Either way, it will put pressure on the manufacturers to find better ways to prevent or reduce waste. 

    There has been a lot of difficulty passing some of these laws because the manufacturers have a lot of money and influence to stop them. However the effort continues to reverse the idea that the problem lies with the consumers and not the producers.

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