It is no longer uncommon to see or find huge piles of wastes, old house items, construction waste or used products dumped by the road side, in the forests, or in non-designated dumping sites. This trend is on the rise and is increasingly becoming a problem because it hinders the objective of keeping the environment clean and can have serious impacts on wildlife and habitat.
According to environmental protection agencies and departments, this malpractice is termed as illegal dumping. It is considered unlawful on the account of the harms it causes to the environment. What’s more, there are officially designated areas with proper integrated waste management systems which should be used for dumping. Therefore, in defying the clearly outlined laws for appropriate dumping by throwing trash just anywhere such as by the roadside or in the forest, it becomes unlawful. Let’s have a look at the causes of illegal dumping as well as its effect to the environment and the possible solutions to the problem.
Causes of Illegal Dumping
1.High level of overall waste production
Studies indicate that a higher level of overall waste production is distinctly correlated with increased rates of illegal dumping of waste and the increasing number of illegal dumping spots. The increase in overall waste production is tandem with riches, rapid change of preferences, and the ever growing population throughout the world. Additionally, people are becoming more and more consumer oriented than the past.
Previously, people depended on new and creative ways to use old stuff, but in the contemporary world the majority of people are in search for new and better products especially home appliances, clothes and electronics. The throwing out of old devices and used home appliances has thus lead to the increase of illegal waste dumping.
2.Avoidance of disposal fees at waste management sites
Cases of residents in various parts of the world disposing waste themselves are on the rise. This habit is associated with the avoidance of paying disposal fees at waste management sites. The people who engage in such acts are of the opinion that the prevailing waste collection fees are exorbitant. Therefore, instead of following the rightful channels for disposing waste or paying third party waste pick up services, they illegally dispose the waste in remote locations.
Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling Company, for instance, points out that computer monitors and televisions are increasingly found at illegal dumpsites on the account of the restrictions and costs of disposal. Some third party waste pick up services have also gotten into the habit of dumping waste on illegal dumpsites to avoid paying the disposal fees.
3.Some people simply don’t understand the importance of waste recycling
Most people understand and are very much aware of the repercussions of illegal dumping. Regardless, some individuals simply don’t see the need of recycling waste or following the rightful waste disposal channel and therefore go to highly unusual lengths to illegally dispose waste. They do so by completely avoiding prosecution and detection which means that they obviously know their act is unlawful.
As a matter of fact, most of the items illegally disposed such as old appliances, white goods and furniture can be easily recycled or even reused. So, it can be concluded that most of the people engaging in acts of illegal dumping simply don’t understand the importance of reuse or the concept of recycling waste.
Effects of Illegal Dumping
1.Illegal dumping damages the environment
Land, water and air pollution in the neighborhood are primarily caused by illegal dumping. The chemicals and non-biodegradable materials in the waste affect the physical environment and the waterways by contaminating groundwater and soil. The wastes can also spread weeds and pests therefore affecting agriculture and wildlife. Wildlife and domesticated animals can also die after consuming poisonous materials such as plastics and chemicals from the waste.
2.Illegal dumps can be fire hazards
The illegal dumping of chemicals, tyres and green waste can augment the risk of wildfires. Cigarette butts may also start fires.
3.Dumped rubbish diminishes property value and affects tourism
The value of property obviously diminishes if it is littered by illegal dumping. Besides, lands or places that have been turned into illegal dumpsites can serve as magnets for other criminal activities. The dirt and smell can also makes such areas unsightly which impacts on tourism, especially if the dumping is done in forests or beside the road.
4.Health and safety risks
Illegally dumped materials contain toxic substances, sharp objects, white goods, nappies, contaminated medical waste, asbestos and tyres just to mention a few. These materials pose serious health and safety risks to children who may pick, eat or play with them. Children may also suffocate in refrigerators that still have doors. The tyres can offer breeding ground for mosquitoes, contaminated medical waste can spread disease, and the sharp objects can physically harm people.
5.The entire community is put at risk
It may never be distinctively clear but illegal dumping surely puts the entire community at risk. Tyres, construction waste and tree stumps left on the road, for example, can result in accidents. Illegal dump sites can also block storm water drainage systems thereby turning into breeding ground for diseases and causing flooding.
6.It costs high amounts of taxpayers’ money
Year in year out, thousands of cash in terms of taxpayers’ money is committed towards cleaning up the mess brought about by illegally dumped waste. Municipalities always spend lots of money fixing natural areas and infrastructure affected by illegal dumping.
Solutions to Illegal Dumping
1.Cooperation and collective responsibility on reporting illegal dumping
Yes it’s possible for people in all communities and societies to stand up against illegal dumping. Many at times the people that engage in illegal dumping activities do so knowingly and are always on the lookout of places where the environmental regulatory authorizes hardly patrol.
Hence, if people can take the responsibility of reporting any witnessed act of illegal dumping, it can impressively help in curbing the activity. This strategy should also work towards establishing a special task force that includes the environmental, health, police, and public works departments to work in cooperation with the local people.
Law enforcement and prosecution is fundamental in stopping illegal dumping. Instead of spending million of cash cleaning up illegally dumped materials, a special taskforce of police can be employed to watch over sites where illegal dumping frequently occurs. Witness reports from volunteers or people on illegal dumping must equally be taken seriously and the reported persons subjected to prosecution.
It is a preventive effort that can work over the long-term to thwart the activity. Cities and administrative districts must therefore enforce stricter illegal dumping laws by clearly outlining the penalties and consequences if caught to stress the gravity of the activity.
3.Education, awareness creation and publicizing success
Outreach through education and awareness creation in affected communities can significantly aid in solving the illegal dumping problem. It highlights the adverse effects of the activity, spurs positive involvement, and can increase the number of residents who volunteer to monitor and report any instances of illegal dumping.
It may also help in monitoring and locating high-frequency dumping areas. In the city of Phoenix, for instance, such a program aided in cleaning up more than 15,000 tons of illegally dumped waste in the years between 1996 and 1997. Publicizing success through the media especially in terms of arrests made may also help in showing people that illegal dumping is wrong and can fuel illegal dumping prevention.
4.Setting lower disposal fees at waste management sites and higher fines for illegal dumping
Environmental authorities together with the local governments need to set lower disposal fees to encourage people to use the lawfully stipulated waste disposal systems. At the same time, the relevant regulatory bodies against illegal dumping must set higher fines to discourage the habit. This can be done by re-defining the fines and punishments for illegal dumping as well as the licensing and charge rates acts for dumping services.
For instance, it has been cited that in some areas it may be less costly to illegally dump and pay a fine than using the rightful waste disposal channels. By employing this strategy, societies can become less vulnerable to illegal dumping.
5.Embracing the practice of reducing, recycling, reusing (The Three R’s)
To begin with, illegal dumping is a result of high level of overall waste production. If the amount of waste generated can be reduced, then the outcome will be fewer and fewer scenarios of illegal dumping. All people should always strive to reduce the amount of waste they generate by only purchasing and using essential products.
Also, the promotion of recycling initiatives such as the opening up of various designated areas for free collection of used and obsolete appliances, furniture and other home products for recycling can reduce illegal dumping. The practice of reusing such as donating or selling used products that are still in good condition should as well be encouraged to cut back on illegal dumping of appliances, white goods, and furniture.