Waste killing hundreds of thousands in developing world

Friday 17th May 2019 | Jake

Research by the charity Tearfund has found that between 400,000 and 1 million people die annually due to diseases stemming from mismanaged waste. The build-up of untreated waste leads to the spreading of numerous diseases, and this problem is especially prevalent in developing countries.

While waste going uncollected isn’t particularly new in cities, the level of plastic pollution has ballooned in recent years, intensifying the danger many people face. In developing nations plastic pollution routinely results in blocked waterways, causing areas to flood. This flooding spreads waterborne disease like wildfire. The burning of plastic is also harmful, releasing hazardous toxins and contributing to air pollution. The true extent of the damage of toxins and microplastics has caused is unclear, but further research in poorer countries will likely shed light on its devastating effects.

Globally there are a minimum of 2 billion people who don’t have their waste collected and treated. Tearfund’s report outlines that a build-up of rubbish close to home will more double the risk of suffering diarrhoea, which is a leading cause of death in much of the developing world. The report called on all companies to better manage their plastic production, and called on Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever in particular to take responsibility for the threat their waste poses.

Countries around the world recently signed a deal aimed at stemming the flow of plastic waste into the developing world, but for many millions it is too little, too late.