Littering and illegal dumping of waste has the potential to cause health and safety risks for both people and the natural environment, it can:
* contain broken glass, syringes, nappies, medical waste and toxic substances like asbestos
* attract rodents, insects and other vermins
* provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos
* block waterways and storm water drains, increasing the potential for flooding and erosion
* be a potential fire hazard
* attract further dumping
* other antisocial and illegal activities
* decrease community pride and intesifies the problem
* builds up next to roads, can block gutters and finds its way into creeks, rivers and onto beaches, it harms and kills wildlife, for example:plastic waste can choke and suffocate birds and marine life
* even unlikely materials such as soil and garden waste contributes to litter and dumping issues within Bundaberg Region by spreading pests and weeds
* organic waste such as food scraps, contributes to algae blooms in waterways
* Cigarette butts comprise90% waste littered from a vehicle. Plastic and cigarette butts end up in waterways and can be swallowed by marine animals. These animals will slowly choke to death Cigarette butts littered from motor vehicles can also start bush fires, costing lives and damaging property
Why does it happen?
Businesses and individuals that illegally dump, do so to avoid fees at landfills, or believe the time and effort required for proper disposal is to much.
To avoid detection and potential fines, offenders go to extraordinary lengths to illegally dispose of materials. If they considered the cost of fuel and time taken to dispose of the waste, they would usually find it cheaper and quicker to dispose of these materials legally at a landfill or transfer station.
What is Littering and Illegal Dumping?
Littering: Litter has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount less than 200Ltr's in volume.
Littering - what can it look like?
Common types of litter include cigarette butts, drink bottles, fast food wrappers, material from a trailer that is poorly secured, grass clippings swept into the gutter, fishing tackle.
Dangerous Littering: Deposited equaling an amount less than 200 ltr's in volume, which causes or is likely to cause harm to a person or the environment.
Illegal Dumping - what can it look like?
Dumping is unsightly, it degrades the local environment, reduces property value and costs rate payers a substantial amount of money each year to clean up. Illegal dumping includes items such as bags of rubbish, garden waste, building materials, household goods, abandoned cars, scrap tyres and hazardous waste
I went on to interview a couple of members from the rural areas that suffer from illegal dumping. I found that they all get affected the same way , some more than others.
People dump their waste illegally for a number of reasons. They may be trying to avoid disposal fees, or may simply be too lazy to make the effort to dispose of their garbage properly. Factories or work teams can have significant waste disposal costs, so the incentive to dump illegally can be high – especially in countries with weak environmental policies which mean that they will likely get away with it. In some third world countries you can still see blatant evidence of the practice in the form of individuals throwing their trash in rivers, and companies releasing highly toxic waste directly into the environment².
Not only does illegal dumping destroy the environment and harm plants and animals, it also has a number of other negative effects on society. If garbage is dumped in an area accessible to the public – and especially children – such as a park, then people can be exposed to health and injury risks. The clean-up of illegally dumped garbage costs governments and tax-payers millions, if not billions of dollars per year. This money could be better used in the preservation and care of the environment, rather than in the clean-up of completely preventable and thoughtless dumping. If you care about the environment even a little, then you would never consider illegal dumping as a method of waste disposal. Rather, take the extra time and deliver your trash directly to a dump or tip, even if it costs a little more.
- Melchi Ngoyi