Wastewater treatmentWastewater treatment is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater (sewage) before returning the remaining water safely back into the environment. Wastewater treatment had the largest share of the water market in 2020, followed by industrial water treatment. The global water and wastewater treatment market had a value of 263 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is projected to reach nearly 500 billion U.S. dollars by 2028 due to the growing demand for clean water.
Despite the importance of wastewater treatment, just 56 percent of the world’s domestic wastewater flow was treated safely in 2020. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia, less than 30 percent of the populations had safely treated wastewater flow. In comparison, wastewater treatment was far more common in Europe, Northern America, Australia, and New Zealand. Households in these regions were also far more likely to have access to sewer connections than on-site systems like septic tanks. Although the share of people worldwide with sewer connections and on-site systems was equal in 2020, those living in urban locations were twice as likely to have sewer connections than on-site systems. Rural areas still relied heavily on septic tanks and latrines.