The uncontrolled burning of waste takes place worldwide, particularly in lower-and–middle income countries (LMICs) where waste management systems are often limited in effectiveness or altogether non-existent. The evidence about this issue's prevalence and its harmful effects is generally poor. Waste is burnt in residential areas and within industrial or commercial premises due to the lack of availability, unreliability, or sometimes complete absence of waste collection and disposal systems. This can lead to a number of public and environmental health concerns. For example, there are often direct health impacts for those undertaking burning in confined spaces (for example, in factories), and for waste workers who burn electronic waste to extract the metals. In addition, these e-wastes contain hazardous materials such as lead and arsenic. There are also risks posed to the communities where the waste is burnt, especially the most vulnerable people, such as children, older persons, pregnant women, and those with comorbidities. The waste can also directly lead to contamination of the land and water (surface and ground water), leading to more wide-spread risks.
Open, burning of waste also produces a wide range of atmospheric pollutants including greenhouse gases, reactive trace gases, toxic compounds, and black carbon (BC). In particular, BC emissions are a major source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a leading cause of poor health and premature deaths. They also have a climate change impact up to 5,000 times greater than CO2, and at a scale equivalent to 2-10% of global CO2eq emissions: potentially double the impact of aviation but attracting a fraction of the finance. However, emissions from open waste burning are challenging to characterize and therefore commonly excluded from inventories. Despite being a widespread practice with global consequences for the climate and public health, open burning of waste is still considered a local issue and receives little global, regional, or international attention. ISWA, Engineering X, CCAC, IGES and WasteAid look to raise awareness at all levels to bring together a global movement to address this critical issue.
Coordinator, Municipal Solid Waste Initiative, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, UNEP
Sandra Mazo-Nix has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management from the National University of Colombia, and a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University (Virginia, United States). As part of her graduating thesis for her bachelor’s degree, Ms. Mazo-Nix conducted a research project to evaluate the feasibility of a recycling program at a bottling plant in Medellín, Colombia. Ms. Mazo-Nix joined Climate and Clean Coalition (CCAC) as the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Initiative coordinator in January 2016. Ms. Mazo-Nix has over 13 years of experience focusing on environmental policy issues, solid waste management, and the mitigation of climate change. She has also worked on projects related to landfill gas generation and recovery modeling and reporting, landfill gas utilization cost analyses and electricity market research. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has certified her as Recycling Systems Manager and Composting Programs Manager.
Mayor, Kanifing Municipal Council, The Gambia
Lord Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda of Kanifing Municipal Council is the youngest Mayor in the history of The Gambia. In 2018, he was elected at the age of 31 years. The University of Toronto Economics graduate has made significant impact in under two years as Mayor, including his most notable project, ‘Mbalit’, which re-introduced residential and commercial waste collection throughout the municipality with a brand-new fleet of 24 garbage trucks. Other achievements include: (i) Introducing 500 street bins; (ii) Employing 200 personnel in new projects; (iii) Boosting the image of the Council through various street cleaning exercises and flood preventions clean-ups; (iv) Leading staff restructuring exercises and improving the financial health of the Council; (v) Improving market infrastructure and sanitation; and (vi) D100m small business loan package for women and D20million loan package for the youth. Additionally, Talib is a businessman and a family man with a beautiful wife and two children.
Advisor, Sector Project “Concepts for sustainable solid waste management and circular economy”, Member of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); Vice Chair of the ISWA Working Group on Climate change and waste management
Johannes Paul currently works at the Department of Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure at GIZ in Germany. He is involved in several advisory, research and development projects that relate to circular economy with focus on waste management, climate mitigation and marine litter, related SDGs and capacity building. Since 2020 he is the Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Waste Management and Climate Change for the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
WasteAid Senior Technical Advisor and Head of Communications
Zoë has 20+ years’ experience developing and implementing circular economy initiatives within government, business and non-profit organisations. Her cross-sector experience and business development skills enable diverse stakeholders to develop successful long-term partnerships and impactful programmes. At WasteAid, Zoë has produced groundbreaking advocacy on the importance of waste management in lower-income countries. She designs and delivers interventions with communities worldwide to turn waste into a resource and prevent open dumping and burning.
Premakumara Jagath Dickella Gamaralalage
Director - IGES Center Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET), IGES, Japan
Dr. Premakumara is a development planner involves in developing integrated/holistic waste management strategies at national and local levels, application of participatory learning and action methods to promote 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycling) and circular economy/ resource efficiency societies, integration of informal sector and citizen participation in waste management, and linkages between waste and climate change as well as sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Engineering X Safer End of Engineered Life Programme Manager
Hazel leads the design and implementation of this multifaceted, global programme that seeks to understand and apply practical interventions to unsafe end of life practices, build diverse international communities and partnerships to share evidence, knowledge, and good practice, and raise awareness of the global challenges of dealing safely and ethically with the billions of tonnes of end-of-life materials, artefacts and structures that humanity produces each year.
Aditi Ramola (moderator)
Technical Director, ISWA
Aditi is the Technical Director at the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) where she manages international projects and partnerships with the UN, provides assistance to ISWA’s Working Groups and helps develop innovative projects globally to further strengthen cooperation with ISWA’s partners and international organizations. Her skills are particularly focused on solid waste management and environmental issues. Aditi holds a master’s in Environmental Technology and International Affairs from the Vienna University of Technology. She has several years of experience in the private sector including at Caterpillar Inc. before joining the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the Climate Policy and Networks unit. Aditi is also passionate about science education and was the founding member and lead of the ISWA Young Professionals Group (YPG) initiative on Education and is the past Chair of the ISWA YPG.