- A new report from the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) found that from Dec. 2015 to June 2016, there have been more than 750 deaths globally related to poor waste management in dumpsites and associated health impacts.
- Such fatal incidents include when a dumpsite landslide killed 73 people in Shenzhen, China in December, and when a diarrhea epidemic in Zimbabwe — attributed to poor waste management — killed 502 people in January.
- The report also found that open dumpsites receive approximately 40% of the world's waste and serve three to four billion people. ISWA's aim is to develop ways to close such dumpsites while still providing waste management options and jobs for those who currently depend on the sites.
From the trash-ridden waters of Rio de Janeiro to the trash crisis in Lebanon, it is no secret that many countries around the globe are struggling to manage their solid waste. With each passing day that waste is not properly disposed of, health issues become more prevalent and trash begins to infiltrate ecosystems. According to ISWA, exposure to open dumpsites in Southeast Asia has "a greater detrimental impact on a population's life expectancy than malaria." Additionally, dumpsites are responsible for climate change, waste trafficking and other industrywide concerns.
ISWA has recognized the need to take action, and plans to do so with its "Roadmap for Closing Waste Dumpsites." The roadmap outlines steps for ISWA and global waste officials to take toward closing dumpsites, including collecting real case studies about the process of closing a dumpsite, developing communication plans to share resources and arranging meetings with stakeholders to identify courses of action.
At its recent World Congress, ISWA inaugurated its new president Antonis Mavropoulos who will have a key position in ensuring the progress of this mission. While it is no easy task to combat dumpsites, Mavropoulos will likely bring high energy and ambition to the table that is needed to tackle this issue.