Conservation | November 28, 2017

One person’s waste is another’s $2 trillion opportunity

The team at


At least two billion people worldwide still lack access to solid waste collection. Methane emissions from municipal solid waste management contribute 12% of global methane emissions and 5% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Rising incomes compounds the problem, as people tend to generate more waste as they earn more. Globally, the $1.5 trillion waste management market could grow to $2 trillion by 2020. China is likely to produce twice as much urban solid waste as the United States by 2030.

Emerging tech is priming the pump for climate-smart solid waste management, according to the International Finance Corp.’s “Creating Markets for Climate Business” report.

Advanced thermal conversion technologies and applications for waste-to-liquid fuel create new investment opportunities.Waste-to-energy should attract significant investment too, the IFC report predicts, as policymakers work with businesses to unlock its environmental and energy benefits.

In Quebec, Enerkem, a firm that produces cellulosic bioethanol from non-recyclable household waste, invested $115 million (Canadian) in a methanol-to-ethanol unit.

The investment was driven by a guarantee from the city to provide a consistent waste supply for the next 25 years — and a payment of $75 per metric ton of waste used.