New Study Says New York Is The World’s Most Wasteful Big City

May 8, 2015 | Liam Mathews

CityLab reports on a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that finds that New York is the world’s most resource-greedy city with a metropolitan area of more than 10 million people.

The study, led by the University of Toronto’s Christopher Kennedy, looked at how 27 “megacities” consume resources and generate waste. New York topped the list in per capita energy use, water use, and solid waste disposal. New York likes to brag about how green it is, but these charts show we have a long way to go:



Images: PNAS

Some of New York’s wastefulness is due to inherent environmental factors, CityLab writes, and some of it is due to wealth:

The size, unique geographies, and economic activity of each city influences its position on this list. Colder places, like New York and Moscow, tend to use more heat, for example, which brings up their overall energy usage. Cities with wealthier people, on the other hand, tend to consume more resources and generate more waste. A typical New Yorker consumes 24 times the energy of a person living in Kolkata, India, and generates 15 times as much solid waste, for example.

CityLab also notes that New York could learn a lot from Tokyo, a city with a much larger population that uses way less energy due to careful urban design and more efficient infrastructure.

(Photo: Thomas Hawk)