Dimensions of Pollution

Waste

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Nearly 30 per cent of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted every year. This waste contributes to biodiversity loss through habitat change, overexploitation, pollution and climate change. Food is the primary source of landfill gas and the largest component of materials sent to landfills, which leads to methane emissions that cause climate change.

 

About 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2014, almost 25 per cent more than in 2010. In Kenya alone, an average of 3,000 tonnes of computers, monitors, printers, mobile phones, batteries and other kinds of e-waste is generated annually.

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Nearly 30 per cent of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted every year.

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The global economy is also seeing a rapid increase in the generation of hazardous wastes. Although most of the conventional hazardous wastes are produced in industrial and manufacturing operations, significant amounts are also generated in non-industrial sectors, including sludge from wastewater treatment plants, waste oils, and waste batteries. The uncontrolled burning of waste – whether hazardous or not – can create persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that damage human health and the environment.

 

UN Environment promotes the sound waste management through our International Environment Technology Centre, which works with governments around the world to help them reduce waste and manage it effectively. We also participate in the Global Partnership on Waste Management, which aims to enhance international cooperation, raise awareness, build political will, and develop capacity to promote resource conservation and resource efficiency.

 

UN Environment hosts the joint secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, multilateral environmental agreements that regulate the transboundary movement of waste, the import of hazardous chemicals, and the production and use of persistent organic pollutants, respectively.

 

UN Environment also serves as the Secretariat of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which promotes sustainability and waste reduction across a range of sectors, including tourism, construction, the food industry, and public procurement.

Get more details on pollution in our background report, Towards a pollution-free planet.