The world leader in waste production, the USA, saw waste increase more than 7 million tonnes between 1998 and 1999. Waste per capita increased by 167 kg, but recycling increased only 62 kg, which meant over 100 pounds of garbage per person were trashed. Ten States reported declines in recycling rates in 1999/2000 and only ten States currently meet their recycling goals, making the recycling rate less than 25%. Factors cited in low recycling rates include the economic boom in the late 1990s that has created more garbage that is not easy to collect. This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends: (a) encouraging recycling in industrial processes and at the consumer level; (b) developing processes to reduce waste generation; (c) treating waste before disposal; and (d) making use of biodegradable materials.
Agenda 21 defines waste minimization as a 'preventative waste management approach focused on changes in lifestyles and in production and consumption patterns' with the basic objectives of: (1) stabilizing or reducing the production of wastes by formulating goals based on waste volume, and recycling and reuse; (2) strengthening data collection and management regarding waste production for the purpose of developing waste minimization policy.
Policy makers are also focusing on a more integrated approach to waste management, one that uses cleaner production concepts to minimize the volume of wastes generated by manufacturing processes.