ISWA Task Force

on Globalisation and Waste Management


The globalisation of waste is a major concern for ISWA since it is one of the major challenges for the long-term sustainability of waste management. Recognising that Globalization creates substantial changes and brings new unprecedented challenges for Solid Waste Management, ISWA established a Task Force (TF) in September 2010. The TF aims to examine and make recommendations on a range of issues arising from the interaction between globalisation and waste management.


List of deliverables/results of the Task Force under different thematic areas

Globalisation and Waste Management

ISWA TFGWM Report Globalisation and Waste Management

It is with pleasure and a certain sense of pride, that I introduce the ISWA Globalisation Task Force’s Final Report, which covers a series of important issues regarding waste management.


The Task Force’s interim report, in 2012, highlighted the links between globalised supply chains, consumerism, population growth, urbanisation, resource depletion and waste management. It underlined the crisis humanity faces in needing to stop open waste dumping and to bring collection services to half the world’s population living that don’t have them. Dumping and incomplete collection damage our health and environment. We underlined how a collective global effort is needed, such as in the fight against diseases (malaria, AIDS), in order to stop hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste polluting our water, soil and air. This requires co-operation between a wide range of stakeholders and above all funding. In this, the Task Force’s Final Report, we face a series of issues. We look at recycling of plastics and how the global supply chain is affected by recycling practices in developed nations that rely on market, particularly China, to ensure their sustainability. We search for answers to the growing challenge of informal sector workers, particularly in developing nations, and how to protect them through a transition to more formal structures, a highly contentious issue among waste professionals. And finally we examine the role of international co-operation in the development of waste management in economically poorer nations and find that the amount of international co-operation going to protect people’s health and their environment from uncontrolled waste is almost nothing, a miserable record for the International co-operation community and one which must be changed in the near term. This report has been elaborated by several authors and let me thank all of them for the integrity and intensity with which they faced these topics. I remind all readers that most of the work ISWA undertakes is voluntary and when paid, comes from the donations which ISWA members worldwide contribute to our association. So my thanks go to all ISWA supporters globally for making this report possible.


David Newman, ISWA President

Key Figures

Sources of Waste Plastics Imported in China in 2010
Sources of Waste Plastics Imported in China in 2010
Megacities and Urbanisation
Megacities and Urbanisation
International Development Co-operation
International Development Co-operation

Global Recycling Markets: Plastic Waste

ISWA Task Force Globalsisation and Waste Management Report

A story for one player - China


Plastics are emblematic materials, transforming our everyday life for over 60 years, delivering unprecedented functionality. Plastics global production, mainly from fossil raw materials, has skyrocketed: from 1.5 million tonnes (Mt) in 1950 to 288 Mt in 2012. Sustainable consumption and production, and the circular economy, require minimising use of virgin materials and greenhouse gasses emissions, while delivering clean material cycles. To this end, globalised trade in waste plastics is a major option.

A Review of International Development Co-operation in Solid Waste Management

ISWA TFGWM Report Review of International Development Co-operation in Solid Waste Management

Rapid urbanisation and increasing global consumerism are driving unprecedented levels of waste generation in low and middle income countries. This rising tide of waste represents an increasing environmental, social and economic burden, particularly for the poorer parts of society.


In many parts of the world waste collection is still limited to more affluent areas and communities, disposal via open dumping is still widespread, and many of the world’s poorest people depend on informal recycling activities to survive.