The open burning of waste poses grave health risks to millions

We are generating more waste than at any other time in history what with a greatly increased global population, rampant consumerism and the wanton use of single-use items like plastic bags and wrappings.

Most of us rarely spare a thought to what happens to our household waste once we put it in the bin, but much of it gets simply burned. And the practice of burning waste poses grave health risks to tens of millions of people around the world, according to a new report, which is the first study of its kind.

“The decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of products and structures at the end of their life can damage the environment and squander scarce resources if not carried out responsibly,” William Powrie, professor of geotechnical engineering at the University of Southampton, explains in the Foreword.

“These processes can also be dangerous and harmful to those people involved in them, especially as the waste and processes in question are often displaced to parts of the world least able to manage them safely,” he elucidates.

The research was commissioned by Engineering X, an international collaboration founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom, and conducted by experts at the University of Leeds in partnership with the International Solid Waste Association and other organizations. The scientists behind it have found that a quarter, or half a billion tons, of all municipal solid waste generated worldwide is left uncollected while a further 27% of all total waste ends up being mismanaged after it is collected. Read more…

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