Dumpsites are a global health and environmental emergency.
More than 750 people have died because of poor waste management at dumpsites in the first half of 2016 alone. Dumpsites receive roughly 40% of the world’s waste and serve 3-4 billion people.
As urbanisation and population growth continue, several hundreds of millions more people will be served by dumpsites, mainly in the developing world. If the situation follows the business as usual scenario, dumpsites will be generating 8-10% of manmade greenhouse gases by 2025.
The operation of dumpsites damages the health and violates the human rights of the hundreds of millions of people that are living on or around them. Proper sanitation and solid waste management sits alongside the provision of potable water, shelter, food, energy, transport and communications as essential to society and to the economy as a whole. As such, closing the world’s dumpsites will be required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Closing a dumpsite is neither a simple nor easy task. It requires an alternative waste management system with adequate planning, institutional and administrative capacity, financial resources, social support and finally political consensus. These conditions can be difficult to meet in countries where dumpsites are the dominant method of waste disposal and governance quality is questionable.
Without a proper international community intervention, many poor countries will not be able to close their dumpsites and upgrade their waste management systems and the vast health and environmental impacts of dumpsites will only grow and expand.
Taking into account that some of the poorest countries in the world are the ones with the most rapid population growth, it is obvious that the health threats are critical, especially in the world’s emerging megacities. With the current level of interconnectivity, this can no longer be considered a local problem and the international community cannot close its eyes to the frightening prospect of mega-dumpsites that will affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) believes that speaking about the change required is not enough. Now is the time for tangible game-changing activities.
ISWA is calling on everyone to cooperate and contribute towards a world without dumpsites. As a first step, ISWA is calling on the international community to cooperate, in every possible form, for the immediate closure of the 50 most polluting dumpsites in the world. This single, but not simple, target will immediately improve:
- The health conditions of millions of people
- The quality of life for the millions living in and around dumpsites
- The business landscape in the developing world, as closing dumpsites is a catalyst for the development of new markets related to waste management and recycling services.
In addition, closing the world’s dumpsites will provide substantial reduction of CO2 emissions and will decrease leakages of solid waste into the oceans, as many dumpsites are located near the coast of inland waterways.
If we want to achieve the Global Goals, a powerful and necessary step will be to close the world’s dumpsites.
Find out more about the ISWA campaign at www.iswa.org