Unfortunately it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to accurately estimate the amount of trash out there due to variations in waste management practices and data collection methods among countries. The amount of trash in landfills and in the oceans represents a small fraction of the total amount of waste that has been generated. A significant portion of the waste that has been produced has been incinerated or has decomposed over time.
The World Bank estimates that in 2016, the total amount of solid waste generated globally that year was approximately 2.01 billion metric tons. This amount is expected to increase to approximately 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. In 2016, approximately 55% of the solid waste generated globally was sent to landfills. This amounts to approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of waste being sent to landfills in that year. In 2016, there were approximately 22,000 municipal solid waste landfills in the world. This number does not include all types of landfills, such as industrial landfills or hazardous waste landfills.
It is estimated that there are millions of tons of trash in the oceans, with much of it being plastic. According to the Ocean Conservancy, the top five countries responsible for the most plastic pollution in the oceans are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries account for approximately 55% of the plastic that enters the oceans each year.
There are several factors that contribute to the amount of trash produced globally. One of the main drivers of the increasing amount of waste being generated is population growth. As the world’s population continues to grow, so too does the amount of waste being produced. Economic growth is also a factor, as countries with a growing economy tend to consume more goods and produce more waste as a result. Urbanization also plays a part, as more people moving to cities can lead to an increase in the amount of waste being generated. Finally, changes in consumption patterns, such as an increase in the use of single-use plastics, can also contribute to the amount of waste being produced.
The amount of waste produced per person varies significantly among countries, with people in developed countries generally producing more waste per person than those in developing countries.
Trends in waste management form World Bank
The World Bank analyzes trends and challenges in solid waste management. Solid waste refers to the range of materials that are generated from human activities and are discarded as unwanted or unusable. This includes household waste, commercial and industrial waste, and construction and demolition waste.
More information can be found here: https://datatopics.worldbank.org/what-a-waste/trends_in_solid_waste_management.html
Projected waste generation, by region (millions of tonnes/year)
Waste collection rates, by income level (percent)
Global waste composition (percent)
Global treatment and disposal of waste (percent)