02.02.2021

Global Launch of the Waste Wise Cities Tool

Household waste

Household waste composition and generation survey is one step of the Waste Wise Cities Tool. Photo: UN-Habitat

The amount of waste generated around the world is increasing at a rapid rate as a result of our unsustainable lifestyles, population growth and economic development. Meanwhile, the systems that handle our waste cannot keep up with the waste growth, and many countries will soon be in a  critical situation. More than two billion people lack access to solid waste collection services and disposal facilities, causing major public health issues that disproportionally affect the most disadvantaged people in society. Additionally, mismanaged waste is leaking into our environment contributing to environmental degradation and marine pollution.

When solid waste is effectively and appropriately managed, it represents an important economic resource and promotes a circular economy, creating jobs and reducing the environmental footprint of cities. It also improves public health. Cities across the world are looking for solutions to the enormous amount of solid waste created over several years but often lack the relevant data to decide on the most ideal solutions. Reliable and city specific data, e.g. the quantity of waste generated and its characteristics, need to be available to plan, design and implement effective solutions. If new systems are created based on estimates from other regions, the solutions may not address the relevant issues, and the same problems can reappear, or new problems may come up.

Seven steps to meaningful data

The Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT) was created to make the process of collecting data on solid waste management easier and support city officials to improve waste management in their cities. It can also guide NGOs, educational institutions, and other stakeholders in their efforts to spread good practices on waste management. The WaCT consists of seven steps to collect all the necessary data on generation and collection of municipal solid waste as well as to estimate the quantity that is managed in controlled facilities.

The development of the Waste Wise Cities Tool was supported by, among others, the IKI-funded project 'URBAN PATHWAYS: Supporting low-emission plans for basic urban services in the context of the New Urban Agenda' , which is implemented by UN-Habitat, UN Environment and the Wuppertal Institute and aims to help implementing the New Urban Agenda with transformative demonstration actions. It was developed through a collaboration between waste experts from UN-Habitat, Wasteaware, Eawag, and the University of Leeds, and reviewed by experts from GIZ, USAID, EXRI, JICA, RWA, DNA, UNEP, WRAP, Springloop Cooperative U.A. and Imperial College of London.