The amount and composition of municipal waste depends on a variety of factors. It is related to our living standard but wealth does not explain everything. It is also correlated with levels of urbanization, energy choices, waste management strategies and the “good” or “bad” habits of consumers. Although our garbage bins represent only a small part of the total waste generated, it is an important part: the one in which everyone can take action. The part where we can take responsibility by deciding to reduce waste – by recycling and avoiding the purchase of over-packaged goods.

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Composition of solid waste for 7 OECD countries / 7 Asian cities (by sector). In most countries in the world, organic materials and paper are the main contributors to municipal waste. In developing countries, large cities generate most of the municipal waste. Data are rarely available for rural areas, but factors like the type of energy source used for cooking and heating and seasonal differences play a part in the composition of waste (for example in rural communities like in Mongolia there is a large difference between the volume of wood ash produced in summer and winter).

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