Mismanaged waste reaps terrible toll


A new report has detailed the human cost of mismanaged waste, finding that one person dies every 30 seconds in developing countries as a result of improper plastic waste disposal.

The report, released by Tearfund, found that the growing death toll can be attributed to from diseases and illnesses caused by plastic pollution and uncollected rubbish dumped or burnt near homes.

The new figures were in a report called No Time to Waste: Tackling the Plastic Pollution Crisis Before it’s Too Late by international relief and development agency Tearfund, in collaboration with conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Institute of Development Studies and waste management charity WasteAid. The report looks at the health impact of plastic pollution and rubbish on the world’s poorest people for the first time.

Sir David Attenborough, a vice president at FFI, said that the report is a call to action for multinational companies to fundamentally change their business models and transition away from single-use palstics.

“This report is one of the first to highlight the impacts of plastic pollution not just on wildlife but also on the world’s poorest people,” Sir David said.

“It is high time we turn our attention fully to one of the most pressing problems of today – averting the plastic pollution crisis – not only for the health of our planet, but for the wellbeing of people around the world.”

The report details how globally, one in four people don’t have regular rubbish collection, which often leads to disease and death.

“This report is a wake-up call to industry about the interconnected threat that plastic pollution poses to marine and human health. While the findings are shocking, this is not an unsolvable problem,” Elisabeth Whitebread, Programme Manager, Marine Plastics for Fauna & Flora International said.

Other key facts in the report:

  • Every second a double-decker busload of plastic waste is burned or dumped in developing countries.

  • Global plastic production emits 400 million tonnes of greenhouses gases each year– more than the UK’s total carbon footprint.

  • An estimated 8 –12.7 million tonnes of plastic is entering the oceans every year.

  • Every 30 seconds the UK throws away 2 double-decker busloads of plastic waste.

  • Living amongst plastic pollution and uncollected waste doubles the incidence of diarrhoeal disease.

The No Time to Waste report can be found here

Subscribe to The Environment Report