2011 Top Ten: 4. Will there be garbage wars in the future?

Increasing consumption in the developing world is leading to increasing waste, leaving less room for trash producers in the developed world to send their debris. In the United States, state and local governments will tighten existing regulations and raise disposal prices in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Louisiana, and other places that accept much of the trash from major garbage producers such as New York.

Trash producers in the developed world will ship much more of their debris to repositories in developing countries. This will inspire protests in the receiving lands. Beyond 2025 or so, the developing countries will close their repositories to foreign waste, forcing producers to develop more waste-to-energy and recycling technologies. Ultimately, it may even be necessary to exhume buried trash for recycling to make more room in closed dump sites for material that cannot be reused. Waste-to-energy programs will make only a small contribution.