The amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted due to waste management in the cities of developing countries is predicted to rise considerably in the near future; however, these countries have a series of problems in accounting and reporting these gases. Some of these problems are related to the status quo of waste management in the developing world and some to the lack of a coherent framework for accounting and reporting of greenhouse gases from waste at municipal level. This review summarizes and compares GHG emissions from individual waste management processes which make up a municipal waste management system, with an emphasis on developing countries and, in particular, Africa. It should be seen as a first step towards developing a more holistic GHG accounting model for municipalities. The comparison between these emissions from developed and developing countries at process level, reveals that there is agreement on the magnitude of the emissions expected from each process (generation of waste, collection and transport, disposal and recycling). The highest GHG savings are achieved through recycling, and these savings would be even higher in developing countries which rely on coal for energy production (e.g. South Africa, India and China) and where non-motorized collection and transport is used. The highest emissions are due to the methane released by dumpsites and landfills, and these emissions are predicted to increase significantly, unless more of the methane is captured and either flared or used for energy generation. The clean development mechanism (CDM) projects implemented in the developing world have made some progress in this field; however, African countries lag behind.
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