The ISWA Task Force on Globalisation published its final report today, to coincide with the opening of the ISWA 2014 World Congress in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Two supporting reports have also been published, on Global Recycling Markets: Plastic Waste and A Review of International Development Co-operation in Solid Waste Management. Prof David C Wilson was the scientific co-ordinator for the Task Force and a co-author of the reports.

The Task Force’s interim report, in 2012, highlighted the links between globalised supply chains, consumerism, population growth, urbanisation, resource depletion and waste management. It underlined the crisis humanity faces in needing to stop open waste dumping and to bring collection services to half the world’s population that don’t have them. Dumping and incomplete collection damage our health and environment. It called for a collective global effort, such as in the fight against diseases (malaria, AIDS), in order to stop hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste polluting our water, soil and air. This requires co-operation between a wide range of stakeholders and above all funding.

The Task Force’s Final Report addresses a series of issues in a concise and accessible manner. The report addresses the challenges of managing wastes in rapidly growing megacities. It also searches for answers to the growing challenge of informal sector workers, particularly in developing nations, and how to protect them through a transition to more formal structures, a highly contentious issue among waste professionals. A previous update and seminal open access paper has also addressed this issue.

The other two issues have also been elaborated in the two major reports published alongside the Final Report. One addresses recycling of plastics and how the global supply chain is affected by recycling practices in developed nations that rely on export markets, particularly China, to ensure their sustainability. The other examines the role of international co-operation in the development of waste management in economically poorer nations and finds that the amount of international co-operation going to protect people’s health and their environment from uncontrolled waste is almost nothing, a miserable record for the International co-operation community and one which must be changed in the near term.