Illegal dumping is a serious issue. Last year, the landslide of tonnes of unmanaged waste caused the death of two workers in Vizcaya, Spain. In addition, they found high concentrations of asbestos in the place. A few days later, the landfill burnt and released harmful gases for days. It caused the evacuation of residents, roadblocks, and the use of drones and emergency services. In conclusion, the accident resulted in high economic, political, human, and environmental costs. This is just an example. According to the World Bank, 93% of waste is dumped in developing countries.
What is illegal dumping?
Illegal dumping is the unlawful deposit of waste onto land. In such cases waste is deposited onto private or public land without the competent authorities’ approval. It also involves illegal landfilling which is the illegal use of waste as fill material. Using waste as fill material can be common for reclamation work, roads and landscaping. It employs demolition or excavation waste. However, building waste usually contains harmful chemicals such as asbestos. On the other hand, legal landfill facilities imply specific engineering work. They must meet specific architecture and location requirements and drainage systems. The objective is to isolate waste until it decomposes safely. For that purpose, waste is covered up in layers using particular types of sediments. Furthermore, sanitary landfills have a maximum capacity. When they become full, they cover them to avoid any leakage or contamination. After some time, the area can be revegetated. Thus, legal landfilling involves:
- Environmental impact assessments.
- Geologic, hydrologic, and demographic criteria for its location.
- Technical requirements: leachate and methane collection systems, bottom liner systems, and stormwater drainage systems.
- Control measures regarding the type of waste, weight control, and surveillance.
- Security systems and access control.
How does illegal dumping affect the environment?
Illegal landfills accumulate all kinds of harmful gases, leachate, and hazardous substances.
The decomposition of waste releases toxic substances. Both in form of gases or liquids. Food waste, cardboard, building waste, tires, varnishes, and lacquers are some examples. We can find below some of the substances we can commonly find in a landfill:
- Methane and CO2.
- Heavy metals.
- Plastic and non-biodegradable material.
- Dioxins and furans.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The lack of proper leachate and gas collection systems provoke soil, air, and groundwaters contamination. In the end, it destroys farmland, water, and ecosystems.
Increased fire risk due to illegal dumping
As mentioned, illegal dumpsites have no control over the waste disposed of. Many times they include flammable and fuel materials, and even ashes and cigarettes. This combination can easily start a fire. On the other hand, changes in weather such as extreme heat can cause self-combustion of waste. In addition, these types of fires are difficult to extinguish. Many times fires last for days and involve large amounts of burnt land.
Landfilling contributes to global warming
According to a report by the World Bank, food waste makes for about 44% of global waste. The decomposition of food waste produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG). Researches estimate it is 28 – 34 times more powerful than CO2. Consequently, waste has a fundamental role in global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The same report indicates it contributes to 5% of global emissions.
Besides, basic improvements on waste management could reduce emissions by more than 25%.
Illegal dumping is a source of diseases and pests
Garbage attracts all kinds of insects, rodents, and pests. They carry diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, and malaria. Furthermore, studies found a connection between living close to landfills and mortality from lung cancer and respiratory diseases. This is especially dramatic in developing countries where a part of the population depends on waste picking. In addition to that, many birds and small mammals feed on waste. Thus, they end up eating plastic and other toxic material.
| The effects of illegal dumping
✔ It is a source of gases, leachate, and hazardous substances.
✔ Increases fire risk and accidents.
✔ Contributes to global warming.
✔ It carries diseases and endangers many species.
What is LandfillSolutions doing to solve the problem with illegal dumping?
LandfillSolutions is committed to a more sustainable future and the end of landfilling. For that purpose, REVALUO, our waste-to-energy system, uses waste as a material to produce energy and other value-added products. It reduces significantly the amount of waste and contributes to reducing global GHG emissions. Besides, our system uses low-carbon technology. In brief, REVALUO WtE system:
- Controls, selects, and recovers waste. The material recovery facility separates hazardous waste and recovers recyclable materials.
- Reduces the amount of garbage. It reduces between 85 – 90% of the amount of waste. It liberates land and reduces the need for land disposal.
- Eliminates hazardous waste and prevents environmental disasters. Our technology can treat leachate, sewage waters, sanitary waste, plastics, tires, and more.
- Capitalizes waste. We make waste management a profitable business. We produce electric power, fuel, soil improvers…
- Controls CO2 emissions. The waste-to-energy facilities produce less than 4g/h per tonne of waste. We stand close to the zero-emission target.
In conclusion, our energy recovery system helps governments and individuals to move towards a circular economy and carbon-neutral model of production. For more information, visit our page and find out what do you get with REVALUO.