The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33% that is not managed in an environmentally safe manner. According to the World Bank, global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050, more than double population growth over the same period. If Southeastern Asia is generating most of the world’s waste, Europe needs to reinforce its committment for effective waste management and recycling too.

In reporting progress towards circular economy, the EU Commission is raising the bar about waste prevention, that remains an important challenge for all Member States. Recent “Environmental Implementation Review 2019” states there has been some improvement in waste management: recycling rates have increased from 43% to 46% from 2014 to 2017, and municipal solid waste (MSW) to landfill decreased by 20% between 2013 to 2017. Nine EU countries are on track and five have already reached the 2020 municipal waste recycling target, but fourteen are at risk of missing them.

In this report, the Commission urges countries to “incentivize resource efficiency measures, improve their eco-innovation performance, increase awareness and foster the uptake of voluntary instruments,” including the use of smart technologies to better manage waste.

Smart Waste best practices and pilot projects are being implemented in many Cities around the world. In San Leandro, California, college and university students have been enrolled in the development of highly innovative solutions: leveraging PE Smart Urban Network – the smart platform already enabling smart streetlights and other services – a group of Harvey Mudd College students worked on a Smart Waste project, dealing with all hardware and software components.