The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has presented a roadmap for closing the world’s biggest waste dumpsites yesterday at the start if its annual Congress in Novi Sad, Serbia.
As a measure to protect the environment and to assure better public health and safety, the organisation noted that open dumps have not been permitted in developed countries for over 30 years. However, it said that in many countries waste still ends up on dumpsites.
Today, these dumpsites receive roughly 40% of the world’s waste and they serve around 3 to 4 billion people.
Fifty of the biggest dumpsites are said to affect the daily lives of 64 million people, a population the size of France. From December 2015 to June 2016, ISWA recorded more than 750 deaths related to poor waste management and dumpsites.
In South East Asia, exposure to open dumpsites was said to have a greater detrimental impact on a population’s life expectancy than malaria. In addition to the human/environmental impact, the financial cost of open dumpsites runs into tens of billions of USD per year.
As urbanisation and population growth continues, it is expected that at least 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 account for 8 to 10% of the global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
At the presentation of the report, Antonis Mavropoulos, the newly inaugurated ISWA president and co-author of the report said:
“Dumpsites are becoming a global health emergency. We are well aware that closing down a dumpsite is neither a simple nor an easy task. It requires an alternative waste management system, with adequate planning, institutional and administrative capacity, financial resources, social support and finally political consensus.
“All of these conditions are really difficult and sometimes impossible to meet in countries where dumpsites are the dominant method of waste disposal and level of governance quality is questionable.
“This is why ISWA calls for the creation of an international alliance that will drive the dumpsites closure in the poorest countries of the world. We think this is the minimum response to an on-going health emergency”
The ISWA report provides the guidance required, to each and every local authority or government, for the process and procedures required to close a dumpsite and develop an alternative sound waste management system.
The report also proves that all the elements for closing a dumpsite are proven and available, and shows that for each and every case, there is a roadmap that results in an improved waste management system with minimum environmental and health impacts. ISWA said that it believes that speaking about the change required is not enough anymore.
“This report is the first step of a global campaign to close the biggest dumpsites of the world. In this view, this report is not a stand-alone document but the start of an effort that will stimulate a global movement for closing down some of the world’s biggest dumpsites,” said Mavropoulos.
“ISWA will act as a catalyst that pushes potential donors or lenders to mobilize the necessary financial resources and supports local authorities and governments to close the dumpsites and create alternative waste management schemes capable to deliver a sound level of health and environmental protection,” he concluded.
The ISWA report Roadmap for closing waste dumpsites is intended to be a crosscutting strategic document with a focus on the political, financial, technical, environmental and social requirements needed before, during and after the closure of dumpsites.