Which Countries Generate the Most Waste and What You Can Do

Countries generating the most waste

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Municipal solid waste (MSW) production is a global ecological challenge. This year, many countries established sustainability regulations to decrease adverse climate change effects. A significant concern about global waste production is the related greenhouse gas emissions.

Nations can shrink their carbon footprints by decreasing MSW. Three countries are generating the most pollution, which limits conservation efforts. Before identifying the regions, individuals must explore where waste generally comes from.

From Where Does Global Waste Derive?

The most commonly recognized form of waste is landfill pollution. Garbage is the third leading cause of methane emissions in the world. As MSW breaks down in landfills, it releases contaminants into the air, water and soil.

Many environmentalists also calculate general air pollution as waste. Most emissions derive from transportation, manufacturing and building practices. Another source of pollution is wastewater.

A large portion of wastewater comes from the agricultural sector. Crops are water-intensive, and excess water can carry synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to the ocean. When the contaminants reach major water sources, they cause eutrophication.

They also contaminate local water sources with bacteria, putting humanity and the greater ecosystem at risk. Three countries are producing a significant volume of these types of waste. After exploring their pollution struggles, environmentalists may assess effective waste-reduction methods.


Canada is the leading producer of waste globally. One of the country’s major sources of pollution is plastic. Canadians generate nearly 3.3 million tons of plastic waste annually.

When the pollutants reach landfills, they break down into minuscule beads called microplastics. After it rains, stormwater carries the beads to the ocean where they cause adverse effects on marine ecosystems. When fish and other aquatic species consume microplastics, they experience growth limitations.

They also experience endocrine disruptions which cause significant hormonal changes. Some researchers notice unusual behaviors in fish near plastic pollution. Canada must significantly decrease its microplastic production to improve global sustainability.


Another country creating significant quantities of waste is Bulgaria. The nation produced nearly 435 kilograms of garbage per citizen in 2017. A large portion of the waste derives from the construction industry.

Building materials often contain harsh chemicals and other toxins. When materials blow off a construction site, they can pollute the local soil. Farmers growing crops close to construction sites risk contamination.

The materials can also reach local water sources through stormwater runoff. When contaminants pollute drinking water, individuals’ risk of adverse health conditions increases. The United States also contributes quite a lot to global waste production.


Americans produced nearly 292 million tons of MSW in 2018. The pollution comes from residents, companies and manufacturing facilities. When researchers break down the waste production statistics, each U.S. citizen creates about 1,800 pounds of garbage annually.

The landfill waste problem increased in America when China stopped accepting its recycling. Now, more recyclables are filling waste treatment plants. Individuals can effectively protect the global ecosystem by reducing garbage production.

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Reducing Waste to Improve Sustainability

Residents and businesses can minimize air pollution by decreasing energy waste. A leading cause of electricity waste comes from buildings’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Individuals may upgrade their outdated HVAC devices to increase their structure’s efficiency.

People may also decrease food waste by composting. Instead of filling landfills with organic materials, individuals can use scraps to nourish local soil. You can also reduce the adverse aquatic effects of runoff by installing a rainwater harvesting system.

The system captures stormwater in barrels and purifies it for conventional uses. After the water moves through a filter, residents can use it to bathe, clean, wash clothes and drink. Individuals can also support effective waste-reduction tactics by educating their communities.

Communication is Key

You can reach out to your local government representatives to establish effective conservation measures in your community. Opening more second-hand stores and developing a local composting center may minimize waste. Individuals can also educate their neighbors about the effects of single-use plastics to promote responsible consumption patterns. 

Author bio: Jane Marsh works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.

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