The methodology for measuring and reporting waste management practices was developed and implemented during the 2016 waste inventory. It was improved in 2018 by incorporating lessons learnt and feedback from UN focal points. The methodology requires the collection of data on waste quantities by:

  1. type of waste (e.g. paper, plastics, metal, e-waste, etc.).
  2. method of collection (e.g. municipality, private contractor, take-back scheme, etc.); and,
  3. type of treatment and disposal (e.g. landfill, recycling, reuse, etc.);

The approach follows the recommendations of the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics developed by the Statistics Division at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and is in line with Global Reporting Initiative indicators.

In addition, qualitative information on activities such as implementation of policy and waste management plans is collected to enable the sharing of best practices between UN entities.


Results in 2018


A total of 58 UN entities provided quantitative waste data for 2018, revealing that average per capita waste generation throughout the year was 567 kilograms. Approximately 63 per cent of this total figure is represented by UN Field Missions.

When Field Missions are excluded, the annual per capita rate is 228 kilograms. This difference is largely due to the fact that the work of field missions takes place in camps where occupants both work and live, unlike a typical UN office where waste is generated during working hours only.

In terms of waste disposal, the limited facilities associated with remote locations continue to play a significant role. As a result, 48 per cent of waste was sent to controlled disposal sites1, 20 per cent incinerated and 4 per cent landfilled. The UN-wide rate of reuse, recycling2  and recovery is 24 per cent or 46 per cent when Field Missions are excluded. Click here to see the full results.


Next steps


The Sustainable United Nations facility will continue to improve existing and develop new tools that are aimed at enhancing the quantity and quality of waste inventory data. These efforts will be supported by the implementation of a dynamic and comprehensive UN-wide awareness-raising campaign on waste management.


1A controlled disposal site is a designated and municipality/government-authorised site for disposal of waste lacking one or more of the pollution prevention measures associated with technical landfill sites. Such sites are mostly used by UN peacekeeping in countries lacking technical landfill sites.

2Includes composted waste as well as waste separated and collected for recycling.