Global Waste and Recycling Market

September 2022

11 min

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The global waste and recycling market provides vital services for populations worldwide. Waste management companies and recycling services are responsible for the collection, transport and disposal of waste. The industry protects the environment and reduces the harmful health impacts of excess waste.

The waste management industry and recycling market continue to grow rapidly. Technological advances and increased awareness of climate impacts have driven the market into a period of quick development. As global governments pass new legislation and engineers design more technology, the value of the waste management industry will continue to rise.

What Is Global Waste?

The term “global waste” refers to how much waste our planet's total population produces. From cardboard boxes to plastic drink containers to food scraps, communities worldwide produce a total of billions of tons of waste every year. The reasons for such high amounts of global waste are complex, though intense population growth and the increase of individuals living in urban environments are the main two contributors.

To combat global waste and its negative effects on the planet, the global waste and recycling industries must lean into technological advancements and other means that reduce waste and lead to a cleaner environment. Read on for more information about global waste's causes, the global waste management industry and its future.

Growth of the Global Waste and Recycling Markets

The global waste recycling market has a massive value worldwide. In 2020, it was valued at over $55 billion , and raised to just over $57 billion in 2021. Experts predict the industry will continue this rapid growth, with a projected value of $90 billion by 2028.

The development of the global waste market has several influences. Here are some of the driving forces behind its development:

  • Growing global population: The United Nations estimates a worldwide population of 9.7 billion by 2050 , which has and will have a significant impact on global waste production. Each individual averages 0.74 kilograms of waste produced each day. Fortunately, as the population grows, the waste management industry finds new ways to process rising levels of waste, and their services become even more essential with the rising population growth.
  • Industrialization of economies: An increase in industrialized economies has affected the growth of global waste services. Though industrialization expands access to goods, it also increases waste production, pollution and other harmful contaminants. The waste management industry has grown to accommodate industrialization's rise. 
  • Increased education about recycling: As more consumers learn about the benefits of recycling, the recycling facility industry has grown exponentially. Leading organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have expanded information about recycling and the negative effects of excess waste. The increased access to data on recycling has encouraged more growth in the industry. The EPA is striving to reach a 50% recycling rate by 2030, which would increase the market worth even further.
  • Circular economy models: A shift toward circular economic structures has further impacted industry growth. These economies aim to keep products in circulation for as long as possible. As more governments focus on circular structures, the recycling and waste management industries become more critical. These industries help process materials and recirculate them, instead of transporting them directly to landfills.

All of the above factors have induced massive growth in global waste management. To keep up with driving demands, the industry has developed new technology and techniques, which become more popular every day.

Changing World and Circular Economy

In order to fully understand the growth of the global recycling market, it helps to take a closer look at global trends like the circular economy and increased urbanization. These trends create more demand for waste management solutions and further the industry's growth.

The world is undergoing a massive urbanization trend. More than half of the global population lives in cities or towns, and that number is projected to keep growing. While urbanization boosts economies and access to resources, it also adds to global waste production due to increased access to goods.

In response, the responsibility of the global waste and recycling industries grows. These sectors must find new ways to collect and process waste, often with sustainability at the forefront of their efforts. Using eco-friendly strategies, such as recycling, helps lower global waste production.

The Circular Economy in a Changing World

As mentioned, circular economies focus on extending product life spans . This sustainable strategy is the opposite of a linear economy, where products progress directly from production to disposal. The restorative approach reuses current materials instead of adding to global waste production.

The circular economy model includes features like:

  • Increased tracking efforts: The circular economy places a large impact on product tracking. By closely following products through their life cycle, which begins at production and ends at disposal, you can analyze harmful distribution practices to ship and process goods in the most sustainable manner possible. 
  • Updated designs: These economies place more emphasis on design and materials. The circular economy extends product life spans, keeping them in circulation as long as possible. To achieve that, minimal and reusable materials are key. For instance, circular economies strive to end the production of single-use plastics because they can't be recirculated. A circular economy also supports redesigning product structures to use fewer materials overall. Items should use stronger materials that increase durability but don't add to waste production.
  • More renewable resources: Sources like solar energy, wind power and hydroelectricity are natural, renewable and don't increase waste, making them important to the renewability of a circular economy. By powering waste facilities with renewable energy power, the industry can take a positive step forward in protecting the health of the planet and supporting less waste in the energy sector.

As more communities shift toward circular economies, global waste and recycling industries expand their capabilities. For instance, waste facilitators can help expand recycling efforts and put more focus on sorting through waste. This increased attention to sorting can help extend product use, keeping items out of landfills and reducing their impacts on the planet.

Artificial Intelligence and World Markets

Another reason for the growth of the global waste market is its advances in technology. New technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), can improve efficiency, allowing waste management workers to reach larger populations. AI technology in the recycling industry simulates human intelligence through machines or computer systems, giving them the ability to learn and solve problems.

AI fits into nearly every aspect of waste management, including:

  • Collection: One example of AI in waste management is technologically advanced bins. These can automatically monitor waste levels in trash containers and recycling bins. In turn, algorithms can report the information to waste officials, who use the reports to optimize pickup times and routes, allowing for more efficient collections.
  • Sorting: AI robots can assist with waste sorting at sorting facilities. This technology can scan products with cameras and other monitoring devices, then sort them as needed. For example, if the AI finds an item that should have been recycled, it can move it to a different area. The technology can process items quicker and more accurately than human workers, reducing backups on conveyer belts and allowing employees to focus on more complex areas of the process.
  • Maintenance: AI can scan equipment and other tools to identify defects in equipment, allowing workers to make the necessary updates. For example, AI could detect a nearby water leak in a facility, helping stop excess water waste.
  • Analysis: AI can provide real-time analysis of facilities and waste levels. It can analyze the composition of waste products, giving officials direct insight into recycling rates and the makeup of consumer waste.

Overall, advanced technology like AI allows the waste and recycling industries to process products faster. In turn, consumers can access them more quickly. AI can also monitor production and keep waste levels under control. As the waste management industry continues to grow, new AI advancements will likely follow.

Other World Waste Recycling Technology

Many cities worldwide use technology and other digital efforts to better help their residents. Components like AI, 5G connectivity and increased Wi-Fi access give residents better access to important resources. Additionally, digital formats help with sustainability efforts by reducing physical product waste.

The waste management and recycling industries have adopted many other technology forms to keep pace with modern advancements. Various software types can improve efficiency and assist with sustainability goals. For example, facilities can use software for route optimization. The technology analyzes available pathways through cities and recommends the most efficient option. In turn, waste collection trucks can reduce fuel use.

Other software offers comprehensive solutions that streamline aspects of waste processing, from weighing to routing and distribution. Through technology, officials can access all of their important data in one, easy-to-use interface.

The Future of the Global Waste Industry

As the global waste industry continues to expand, it's important to anticipate its future. The growing pressures of climate change and rising pollution levels show the necessity of sustainable waste management practices. As more countries adopt a circular economy structure, the industry will probably continue to see broad changes.

One of the biggest issues facing the recycling industry is the rising levels of plastic worldwide. Much of this plastic doesn't get disposed of properly and ends up in the oceans, harming ecosystems. The industry will need to expand its efforts or come up with new ways to solve this growing crisis.

These are examples of new techniques society will use for waste management:

  • Change in materials: To reduce the production of single-use plastic, companies will likely change their use of materials. Instead of plastic production, designers might implement sustainable fabrics, such as recyclable cotton. These material types can be reused until the end of their life spans, unlike single-use plastics. A shift toward reusable and durable materials can help reduce waste production and affect product composition. Producers should consider the entire life span of a product during its creation. If a sustainable disposal method isn't available, they should rethink the product's materials.
  • More focus on processing: The waste management industry will need to increase its processing efforts. Processing facilities can detect recyclable items and reroute them for continued use. Waste management workers also need to ensure the safe disposal of plastic. Processing facilities must increase their efforts to identify plastic before it reaches oceans or other natural habitats. Advanced technology will continue to advance these efforts because it can help monitor incoming products.
  • Reduced purchasing habits: Many environmental advocates are encouraging reduced purchasing. If populations reduce their spending and stop accumulating products, it'll be easier for the waste management industry to keep track of waste.

Overall, global waste is a massive problem for the environment. The future of the waste management industry puts a strong focus on recycling. The recycling industry is projected to grow exponentially in response. Countries are encouraging an increase in recycling, and the industry will need to grow to meet these demands.

As we continue experiencing the negative impacts of plastic and excess waste, the global waste management industry becomes even more vital. The growth of the industry will expand access to recycling efforts. Waste management companies and the worldwide waste management market should take advantage of the increased demand and adapt business models as needed. They play a crucial role in the health of our society and planet.

Contact Paradigm Software, L.L.C.™ for Comprehensive Solutions Today

The recycling and waste management industry is growing rapidly and will continue to play a vital role in sustainability efforts. At Paradigm Software, L.L.C.™ , we understand how high-quality software can improve your waste management facility. We offer comprehensive solutions for waste management companies across the United States.

Our comprehensive WeighStation™ software can maximize the efficiency of your weighing operations and is perfect for landfills, recycling stations and more. You can tailor the software to meet your specific needs, ensuring a solution that accommodates you best. Our dedicated team of experts can support your company with whatever questions you have.

WeighStation™ includes features such as :

  • Transaction processing
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