In a recent press release, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is calling on governments and organisations to broaden their understanding of the global waste crisis following a recent focus on the issue of marine plastic debris. While the alarming amount of plastic in the oceans has justifiably received recent attention, it is just one type of waste seeping into the land, sea and air. With the growth in population far greater than the implementation of waste management systems to service them, the problem is likely to deteriorate not improve unless coordinated action is taken on a global level.

The ISWA is reminding governments and organisations that even today the waste generated by nearly three billion people is not collected into a formal waste management process. Approximately 40% of the world’s total waste is dumped in unregulated ‘open sites’, many of which on the banks of rivers or stretches of coastline. While plastic debris is a significant part of the slurry which seeps from these sites into waterways, the toxins, medical debris (including ‘sharps’ such as needles) and liquid residue, which permeates through electronic devices, are also present in substantial quantities.

David Newman, ISWA President, said: “An inexplicable apathy towards waste management has led to the current crisis but without immediate action we can expect more to follow. The impact of this inaction to human health, the environment and the global economy is well-documented – exposure to the open dumpsites alone has a greater detrimental impact on a population’s life expectancy than malaria“.

The waste crisis in the developing world is expected to be discussed in full detail during the coming ISWA’s 2016 World Congress, in Novi Sad, Serbia, next September.

For more see ISWA’s press release.

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