BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Waste generation rates continue to rise globally, but the mismanagement of waste disposal harms developing countries more than ever. By the year 2050, waste generation rates could rise by more than 73%. Currently, waste generation rates are at 2.01 billion tons of solid waste per year. Even though waste generation is a problem in both high-income and low-income countries, the potential increase in the generation is only 19% for developed countries, but 40% for developing countries by the year 2050, according to the World Bank.
These statistics emphasize the more prevalent negative impacts poorer countries face in this crisis compared to wealthier countries. Through littering, dumping of hazardous waste and a lack of recycling practices globally, people pollute the air, land, water, animals and people. The entire world is responsible for stunting efforts of improving waste management in developing countries.
Waste Disposal in Developing Countries
One of the most significant contributing factors to the depreciation of developing countries is improper waste management. Developing countries discard approximately 90% of waste in large unregulated dumpsters which they then burn openly and uncontained creating poor air quality and actively spreading germs into the air, according to the World Bank. These unregulated burnings also contribute to pollution, disease spread and changing weather patterns.
Open dumpsters attract many harmful pests such as rats and mosquitos which commonly carry harmful diseases such as malaria which they can transmit to humans. Strong amounts of heavy metal pollutants such as carbon dioxide poison air quality, water quality and plant life. These factors ruin any attempts towards sustainable and healthy living in developing countries. According to the organization Tearfund around 400,000 to 1 million people in developing countries die each year due to diseases that mismanaged waste spreads, the World Economic Forum reports.
Poorer countries also face higher rates of violence due to excessive waste. People often discard large items of waste such as washing machines, cars, air conditioning units and more in city streets and used them to create roadblocks to prevent law enforcement intervention. Glass bottles and other items are often easily accessible weapons. These factors provide more opportunities for violence and decrease the extent of police intervention.
How Plastic Bags Harm Developing Countries
The United States and other developed countries’ waste management has a significant impact on the increasing issue of waste management in developing countries. The U.S. generates 45 million tons of plastic each year. However, it recycles only about 5% of it. The exportation of post-consumer plastic waste is common in developed countries. This forces poorer countries to struggle with managing not only their excessive waste but bearing the weight of larger, developing countries’ garbage as well, according to the World Economic Forum.
People discard much of the world’s plastic waste into bodies of water like oceans or land. The World Economic Forum reports that more than 18 billion pounds of plastic waste circulates through oceans each year at the hand of coastal regions. Not only does this depreciate the natural beauty of the land deterring tourists that developing countries often rely on for financial income, but it directly harms ecosystems and livestock which kills already limited food sources. More than one-third of cattle and livestock consume vast amounts of plastic which often leads to bloating and starvation. With an increased consistency of dying livestock, primary food sources such as meat and dairy are limited and prevent healthy eating habits for people.
Efforts to Improve Waste Management Methods
Improper waste disposal is a more difficult issue to tackle in developing countries due to the financial demand that proper waste disposal systems produce. Around 20% to 50% of municipal budgets would be compromised in an investment into waste management systems, according to the World Bank, which is unfeasible for many countries. Very few waste collection systems exist and those that do often fail to train workers with adequate knowledge of proper disposal techniques.
The World Bank claims that significant investment and support are necessary to start improving waste management in developing countries. Necessary steps include policy implementation, financing to ensure accurate investments and organizational models to ensure services are accurately delivered. Resident engagement is also significant in improving conditions. Public participation can receive encouragement through incentives and accessible education such as the promotion of proper recycling practices, source separation and items that are reusable.
The World Bank works through all these efforts to improve waste management in developing countries. Since 2000, the World Bank has contributed more than $4.7 billion to more than 340 different waste management programs across the world. Through investments in various countries such as Jamaica, Morocco, Nepal, Vietnam, Pakistan and Liberia.
The World Bank has greatly contributed to the betterment of waste management in developing countries. For example, the World Bank’s support of efforts in Nepal such as an investment into a $4.3 million finance project led to the aid of more than 800,000 residents.
The World Bank sets the standard for improving waste management in developing countries. Organizations’ commitment to supporting policy implementation and financing projects which educate residents and promote the start of formal waste management systems are key steps in bettering impoverished countries. These actions not only improve waste management but also improve public health and environmental sustainability. Supporting the improvement of waste management in developing countries and the harmful impacts it creates such as disease spread, unhealthy air quality, livestock diminishment and violence also improves the state of the most impoverished countries, bringing them one step closer to rising out of poverty.
– Leah Smith