Never heard of Earth Day? Celebrated every year on 22 April, Earth Day aims to encourage people around the world to be more environmentally friendly. Africa has become a dumping ground for waste, particularly hazardous waste, often from developed countries. Here are 10 facts on waste management in Africa:

  • In 2010 Africa was estimated to have 4.4 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste. This figure could rise to 10.5 million tonnes in 2025 if nothing is done.
  • The African Union has set in Agenda 2063 that it hopes that African cities will be recycling at least 50 percent of the waste they generate by 2063.
  • USD 6-42 billion investment is required to finance adequate waste management on the continent. However the waste sector is viewed as a high-risk investment in Africa.
  • The informal sector is heavily involved in waste management in Africa. Millions of Africans make a living by collecting, sorting and recycling garbage.
  • More than 130 people have died in landfill collapses in Africa in 2017-2018, two-thirds of whom were woman.
  • Only 4 percent of the waste generated in Africa is recycled.
  • 90 percent of the waste generated in Africa is disposed of to land, typically to uncontrolled and controlled dumpsites.
  • Waste collection services on the continent are inadequate. The waste collection rate is only 55 percent in Africa.
  • On average, 57 percent of municipal solid waste in Africa is biodegradable organic waste, the bulk of which is dumped.
  • Viable resources are being lost to the economy through dumping of waste such as polymer, fibre, metals and nutrients.

 

There is an urgent need for African countries to address the current waste management challenges and to prepare themselves for the expected growth in waste generation in the coming century. African governments face technical, financial, institutional and social restrictions that aren’t easy to overcome when considering the future of waste management. Public- private partnerships are key to unlocking opportunities and momentum in waste management in Africa.

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