Around 97 per cent of plastic waste created in Eritrea is mismanaged, making the African country with the poorest plastic waste management practices in the world, a new report showed.

In 2024, around 90,954 tonnes of plastic waste was estimated to be mismanaged in the African country, out of around 93,444 tonnes produced in 2024.

The Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI) in the 2024 Plastic Overshoot Day (POD) Report by Swiss non-profit EA Earth Action has listed the nation as one of 42 African nations, where 78-97 per cent of the plastic waste produced is mishandled. According to the MWI index, 13 of the 15 worst performing countries are from Africa.

The capacity of the 42 African nations to handle plastic waste is expected to run out between January 9, 2024 and March 20, 2024, the findings showed.

Slight improvement globally

In 2024, the global POD is predicted to occur on September 5, the authors of the report warned. This means, on this day, plastic waste generated across the world, from single-use packaging, household and textile sectors will exceed the world’s capacity to manage it, resulting in environmental pollution. 

Since 2021, the global POD has been getting extended by a few days every year, coming closer to December. It was August 28 in 2021, August 30 in 2022 and September 4 in 2023.

India’s rank in the MWI has improved significantly since 2023, showed the report. India, which ranked fourth in MWI 2023 with 98.55 per cent of generated waste being mismanaged, has improved and is now at the 95th position. POD for India is April 23, 2024. The Overshoot day for India got extended by nine days from April 14 in the year 2021.


However 68.62 per cent of generated plastics waste is still being mismanaged in India. Of around 10.8 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in 2024, nearly 7.5 million tonnes was estimated to be mismanaged.

Mozambique, which fared worst in 2023 with 99.8 per cent mismanaged plastic waste (99.8 per cent) was at the 7th position this year. In Mozambique, POD was extended by three days from January 15 in 2021 to January 18 in 2024. 

This indicated that there has been a slight improvement in global waste management. But, the total volume of plastic waste generated has been increasing globally.

The global plastic waste generation is projected to increase by around 7.1 per cent between 2021 and 2024, according to the report released last week. As much as 220,606 kilotonnes of plastic waste will be generated in 2024, compared to 205,948 kilotonnes in 2021, it added. 

Nearly 69.5 million tonnes of plastics is expected to be mismanaged globally in 2024 and potentially end up in the environment this year. The global average mismanaged plastic waste per person is projected to be 8.8 kilogrammes in 2024, almost similar to that of last year.

There will be 117 days of plastic overshoot in 2024, which means that the plastic waste generated during these days won't be properly managed, the authors noted.

India (12.5 days) is second among the 12 countries responsible for 60 per cent of the world’s mismanaged plastic waste, or 70 days of overshoot for 2024 after China (23.5 days). 

By April 2024, almost half (47 per cent) of the world’s population will be living in areas where plastic waste has already exceeded the capacity to manage it, indicating a pressing need for action to address the plastic waste crisis, the experts pointed out in the report.

So, the assumption that increased recycling and waste management capacity will solve the plastics crisis is flawed, they flagged amid preparations for the fourth round of negotiations for the United Nations Plastic Treaty negotiations (INC-4) to be held in Ottawa, Canada from April 23-29, 2024. 

The report included 15 global rules for a systemic overhaul, which must be noted by the negotiators at the INC-4. The effectiveness of the plastics treaty depends on their ratification and strict implementation, it said. 

The magnitude of the shift necessary is highlighted by the astounding $5.22 trillion investment required by 2040. At the INC-4 and INC-5, negotiators need to put their words into action, the authors stressed. 

The report categorised countries into six archetypes: moderators, overloaders, low-waste-producing polluters, toxic waste producers, transactors and self-sustainers. This is based on the volume of plastic waste the population produces, how well it is managed and the volume it imports and exports.

Due to poor waste management practices, 81 countries, including 44 from Africa and India, classified as ‘low waste producing polluters’, contribute to plastic pollution. 

Depending on size of the population, some countries can be large contributors to the global pollution, the authors observed. 

For example, In 2024, India will be responsible for releasing into the waterways an average of 391,879 tonnes of microplastics and 31,483 tonnes of chemical additives.

These countries (low waste-producing polluters) must focus on developing their domestic waste management infrastructure and invest in waste management programmes, including Extended Producer Responsibility, the experts recommended.