International Day of Zero Waste 30 March

Addressing the waste crisis

Humanity’s unsustainable production and consumption practices are driving the planet towards destruction.

Households, small businesses and public service providers generate between 2.1 billion and 2.3 billion tons of municipal solid waste every year – from packaging and electronics to plastics and food. However, global waste management services are ill-equipped to handle this, with 2.7 billion people lacking access to solid waste collection and only 61–62 per cent of municipal solid waste being managed in controlled facilities. Humanity must act urgently to address the waste crisis.

The second annual International Day of Zero Waste highlights both the critical need to bolster waste management globally and the importance of sustainable production and consumption practices. It celebrates zero-waste initiatives at all levels, which contribute to the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Bolstering waste management and upstream solutions

Improving collection, recycling and other forms of sound waste management remain an urgent priority.

But to solve the waste crisis, humanity must treat waste as a resource. This entails reducing waste generation and following the lifecycle approach. Resources should be reused or recovered as much as possible, and products should be designed to be durable and require fewer and low-impact materials. Upstream solutions like these can minimize pollution of air, land, and water and decrease the extraction of precious and limited natural resources.

Achieving zero-waste societies requires action at all levels from all stakeholders.

Consumers can change consumption habits and reuse and repair products as much as possible before properly disposing of them. Governments, communities, industries and other stakeholders must improve financing and policymaking, especially as the waste crisis disproportionately impacts the marginalized, urban poor, women and youth.


On 14 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution at its seventy-seventh session to proclaim 30 March as International Day of Zero Waste, to be observed annually. Türkiye put forward the resolution and 105 other countries joined in sponsoring it. It follows other resolutions focused on waste, including “End plastic pollution: towards an internationally legally binding instrument”, adopted at the United Nations Environment Assembly on 2 March 2022.

During International Day of Zero Waste, Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, civil society, the private sector, academia, youth and other stakeholders are invited to engage in activities aimed at raising awareness of national, subnational, regional and local zero-waste initiatives and their contribution to achieving sustainable development. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) jointly facilitate the observance of International Day of Zero Waste.

Promoting zero-waste initiatives through this international day can help advance all the goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 11 and Sustainable Development Goal 12. These goals address all forms of waste, including food loss and waste, natural resource extraction and electronic waste.

Did you know?

  • Packed into standard shipping containers and placed end-to-end, municipal solid waste generated in one year would wrap around the globe 25 times.
  • Increasing resource use is the main driver of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution.
  • Without urgent action, municipal solid waste generation will balloon to 3.8 billion tons annually by 2050.
  • Humanity produces 430 million tons of plastic a year, two-thirds of which are short-lived products that quickly become waste.

Source: UNEP and UN-Habitat


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