#Closedumpsites News

Press Release: A pollution-free planet will only be achieved with better waste management

ISWA reports show that 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic waste services and the pollution caused by dumpsites kills more people than malaria.

5 Dec 2017 -

Vienna, Austria, 5th December 2017 –  The 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi will discuss better ways to #beatpollution and ISWA is at UNEA to call upon the international community to act to bring waste under control and secure a pollution free planet.


ISWA is working on the international community to act and bring an end to the global waste crisis – a fundamental contributor to water, air and land pollution. In addition to human/environmental impact, the financial cost of open dumpsites runs into the tens of billions of dollars.


"The health consequences of dumpsites are much more dramatic than we thought 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", comments ISWA's President Antonis Mavropoulos.

A "Global Health Emergency"

We are currently facing a global waste crisis. Unregulated and informal waste management is a burden on the planet. According to ISWA and UNEP’s pivotal study, Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO): 

  • 3 billion people worldwide lack access to basic waste services,
  • Gastrointestinal and respiratory infections are out of control in these areas without proper waste management,
  • 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste generated per year, enough to feed the world twice over,
  • Waste generation in lower-income countries in Africa and Asia will double within 15 years,
  • The links between waste and pollution are inextricable.

UNEP Executive Director Erick Solheim recently called for a new approach towards a pollution-free planet. High on his list of suggested actions was focusing on waste management as a preventative measure, citing ISWA’s Roadmap for Closing Waste Dumpsites. The report details how the world’s 50 biggest unregulated waste dumpsites pose a serious health risk to 64 million people, by living in or near them, and breathing in the toxins released by waste burning on open dumps. In addition to tragic health consequences, the greenhouse gas emissions released as a result of such practices contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming.  


ISWA is fully behind this new approach and calls United Nations bodies and all National Governments present at UNEA 3 to put an end to the Global Waste Crisis and #beatpollution by approving a Resolution that recognizes sustainable waste and resource management as a social and economic necessity with a vital role in the satisfaction of basic human rights and an important instrument to fight against pollution in all its forms.


“There is an urgent need for action by the global leaders and the international community to help developing countries resolve their waste management problems and the results will bring positive economic, environmental and health impacts on the long-term and save many thousands lives immediately” concludes Mr. Mavropoulos.

The benefits of sound waste management

ISWA and UNEP’s Global Waste Management Outlook clearly outlines the positive impacts of proper waste management on human health, pollution mitigation, the environment and in economic terms.

  • Improved waste management can reduce GHG emissions by 15-20%,
  • Integrated and sustainable waste management infrastructure worldwide could create 15 million jobs,
  • Proper waste management can make a significant contribution to achieving the sustainable development goals. See more here.

Furthermore, there is a need to consider sound waste management in the context of the SDGs, in particular 3.9: “by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.” It is essential to strengthen national policy and enhance capacity in the areas of waste management strategy, impact assessment, and the use of economic and regulatory instruments, as well as in the areas of information, education and communication. 




Further Reading

For interview requests, images, further information and media please contact Daniel Purchase, ISWA Communications Manager, dpurchase@iswa.org / +43 1 253 6001 18

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