The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has determined that uncontrolled dumpsites hold 40% of the world’s waste and that the world’s 50 biggest dumpsites (identified through a voluntarily survey conducted by D-Waste in 2014) directly affect the daily lives of 64 million people, equivalent to the population of France.
The ISWA reports (2014, 2015a, 2015b, 2016) showcase how eliminating dumpsites is an urgent issue, affecting local, regional, and even global health and the environment. Important findings indicate that 38 out of the 50 biggest dumpsites directly impact marine and coastal areas and can become sources of disease outbreaks and the release of wastes (particularly durable plastics) to waterways and the oceans.
Studies suggest that non-engineered dumps and uncontrolled landfills are the third largest source of global anthropogenic methane, a greenhouse gas about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), accelerating climate change. It is estimated that open dumps emit the equivalent of more than 20 million metric tonnes [tons] of CO2 per year. Without any action, it is projected that existing open dumps will account for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
If open dumps instead were replaced by engineered landfills with state-of-the-art landfill gas collection and destruction systems, it would be like removing five million cars from the planet.
In 2018, ISWA’s Working Group on Landfill (WGL) developed a Task Force on Closing Dumpsites (TFCD) and presented its dump closure initiative as one of its flagship projects for the future at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III.
Please read this important ISWA Editorial by James Law and David Ross on this significant issue. The editorial contains a link to the full article available on open access through ISWA’s Journal, Waste Management & Research here.
SCS Engineers brochure – Closing Dumpsites is also available.
An open dump refers to a land disposal site where solid waste is disposed of in a manner that does not protect the environment, is susceptible to open burning, and is exposed to the elements, vectors, and scavengers. Therefore, closing or upgrading open dumps to a sanitary landfill is a key issue for many communities worldwide.
In 1976, the passage of U.S. federal legislation known as RCRA pushed for the closure of open dumps and encouraged the development of modern sanitary landfills. In the 1990s, the U.S. EPA issued rules implementing such requirement. As a result, thousands of open dumps were closed.
The informative brochure “Closing Dumpsites,” is intended for many countries that are now beginning down the path to closing them with basic information of the process. Although U.S. dumps have been closed for many years with SCS providing post-closure and long-term care of these facilities, other countries can learn more about the long-term management of these facilities from our professionals nationwide by contacting us at .