Displacement of Waste Generation Through International Trade
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Human activities generate environmental, social and resource impacts. Especially the high reliance of modern consumerism on material induce the generation of waste. As most of other environmental issues, waste generation has been monitored and policies have been implemented in order to manage and reduce wastes. However this monitoring has traditionally been done on a country by country basis, also known as territorial perspective, and ignores that consumption relies not only on domestic production, but also on imports. Those imports embody part of the wastes imputable to production happening in the exporting country. Termed as consumption-based accounting, or footprinting, this approach to attribute externalities to consumption has gained interest.Using the first multi-regional input-output (MR-WIO) model based on 25 regions for 2007, waste generation according to both methods of accounting has been calculated. It is shown that, despite China and Russia, all the regions 'consume' more solid waste than what they generate on their own territory. It is also concluded that waste accounts for low-income region might suffer from gaps due to lack of statistics regarding their waste generation. The amount of waste embodied in the world trade has also been estimated and shows that around 20% of waste are generated worldwide to supply exports to other regions, with China having a prominent role in this trade. Relationship between income and waste generation per capita is also studied to calculate elasticities of waste generation and consumption. It is concluded that consumption of waste treatment services becomes less intensive as wealth grows. An attempts to study the relationship between regional waste efficiency and income is made, but due to uncertainties in waste data and the need to improve this efficiency methodology, the results seem, so far, unreliable.Relevance of the work and of the findings regarding policy making are discussed. Further improvements and developments of the model are suggested in order to build interesting tools to help design waste management policies.