Progress and challenges to the global waste management system

Waste Manag Res. 2014 Sep;32(9):800-12. doi: 10.1177/0734242X14537868. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


Rapid economic growth, urbanization and increasing population have caused (materially intensive) resource consumption to increase, and consequently the release of large amounts of waste to the environment. From a global perspective, current waste and resource management lacks a holistic approach covering the whole chain of product design, raw material extraction, production, consumption, recycling and waste management. In this article, progress and different sustainability challenges facing the global waste management system are presented and discussed. The study leads to the conclusion that the current, rather isolated efforts, in different systems for waste management, waste reduction and resource management are indeed not sufficient in a long term sustainability perspective. In the future, to manage resources and wastes sustainably, waste management requires a more systems-oriented approach that addresses the root causes for the problems. A specific issue to address is the development of improved feedback information (statistics) on how waste generation is linked to consumption.

Keywords: Global challenges; resource management; root causes; systems approach; wastes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods
  • Humans
  • Industrial Waste / analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Solid Waste / analysis
  • Waste Management / economics
  • Waste Management / methods*
  • Waste Products / analysis*
  • Waste Products / statistics & numerical data


  • Industrial Waste
  • Solid Waste
  • Waste Products