If you’ve ever noticed an assortment of discarded furniture on the side of the road or a commercial dumpster overflowing with black trash bags, you might have witnessed an instance of illegal dumping.
Illegal dumping is the act of discarding large amounts of waste in unauthorized areas like roadsides, commercial dumpsters and wooded areas. Illegal dumping is common in areas that lack accessible waste disposal options, and it happens more often than you might think. Americans dump around 1.5 million tons of illegal waste every year, and over 3 billion people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal.
Illegal dumping can negatively affect ecosystems, finances and human health on a local and global scale. Commonly discarded items like old tires, kitchen appliances and household cleaners contain hazardous chemicals that can leach into the soil and harm humans and wildlife that come into contact with them. If flammable materials are present, illegal dumpsites can even spontaneously catch fire and lead to widespread habitat destruction.
The Environmental Protection Agency reported that cleaning up illegal waste costs millions of dollars every year in some urban communities. Fortunately, there are steps individuals and organizations can take to identify, address and prevent illegal dumping.
1. Look Up Your Local Waste Collection Services
One of the best ways to prevent illegal dumping is to learn how to properly dispose of your own trash. If you have large items that won’t fit in a roadside waste bin, try contacting your local trash pickup service. They will often allow you to schedule a time for bulk trash pickup and can provide further information on what types of materials they accept.
Other options for bulk waste collection include private junk removal services and taking your waste directly to the local landfill or household hazardous wastes processing facility. Private junk removal services are typically the most expensive options, but they may accept materials that a regular trash collector wouldn’t. Local landfills, on the other hand, typically charge less since you are responsible for transportation.
2. Reuse and Recycle
Instead of dumping bulky items or sending them to the landfill, try giving them a new life. You can do this by selling or donating furniture, appliances and other items if they are in good condition. Things like leftover building materials and outdated furniture are also great candidates for DIY projects. If you find that something no longer serves its original purpose, get creative and transform it into something new.
3. Report Illegal Dumpsites
If you notice an illegal dumpsite or catch someone in the act, the best thing you can do is record the date, time and location and report it to your local authorities. The EPA offers a helpful guide for contacting your state’s environmental agency, and their online portal allows you to report environmental violations online.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to report illegal dumpsites, apps like TrashOut are a great option. TrashOut created an app and online platform to track and monitor illegal dumpsites on a global scale,
4. Contact Local Advocates and Nonprofits
Nonprofits seeking to educate the public about illegal dumping are quickly gaining traction in communities around the world. These initiatives organize teams to clean up illegal dumpsites, engage in community outreach programs and provide information on waste disposal options. If local resources are lacking in your area, nonprofits are a great place to start.
Unfortunately, not all communities have access to safe and convenient waste disposal options. If you find that your town or county falls into that category, local civic organizations or community groups might be able to help. These groups have the resources to contact government agencies and push for better waste disposal options.
Illegal dumping can have catastrophic impacts on local ecosystems and communities, and taking action is more important than ever. To learn more about the impacts of illegal dumping and how you can help prevent it, check out this link.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
Salman Zafar can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org