The video below describes briefly the report’s highlights and captures its spirit.
First of all, the main outcome of the report is that dumpsites have become a global health emergency and not just an important environmental issue – its impacts influence the lives of billions of people, directly and indirectly. Some more comments:
1. The health consequences from dumpsites are not as dramatic than we all thought – they are much more worse and they are getting worse day by day just because the waste that is brought to dumpsites is increasing continuously, especially in the developing world, due to urbanisation, increase of the GDP/cap and the rise of the new middle class with its own intensive consumption patterns.
2. There are countries like Indonesia, Philippines and India where scientific evidence shows that the health impacts posed by dumpsites are higher than the ones posed by malaria! This is an unbelievable development, which shows that underestimating the waste management challenges creates a new health landscape dominated by dumpsites.
3. The rising e-waste stream is not yet fully studied and understood in terms of its health and environmental impacts – however all the available studies demonstrate new and very high health risks – in the report you can find a lot of references from China and SE Asia that document the impacts posed by dumping e-waste.
4. Using some elementary calculations, it seems that the annual cost of the health impacts posed by dumpsites are in the order of billions or decades of billions per year – using 50% of this amount of money for helping developing countries resolve their waste management problems will have positive economic, environmental and health impacts on the long-term and save many thousands lives immediately.
There is an urgent need for action by the international community – as a good friend told me recently, our message for decision makers must be as simple as this “you can’t say that you don’t know”.
Special thanks to David Newman, ISWA’s president, for his contribution. Many thanks to Niki Mavropoulos (Waste Atlas manager) for her extensive research and acknowledgements to my colleagues Costas Velis (prof. The University of Leeds), Vivek Agraval (Chair of ISWA’s Working Group on Collection) and Nikos Rigas (D-Waste graphic’s designer) for their ideas and practical help.