Illegal dumping, a form of environmental pollution is a serious issue all over the world, not only in the developing economies, but also in many developed countries. Illegal dumping refers to dumping waste illegally instead of using an authorised method such as relying on kerbside collection or using an authorised rubbish dump. It is the illegal deposit of any waste onto land; waste dumped or tipped on a site with no licence to accept waste. Uncontrolled landfills were previously storing various types of waste without complying with environmental protection. These landfills were placed inappropriately, so animals and people had free access to them. The composition of the waste is often unknown. The dangers of uncontrolled landfills are spread of diseases, breeding of parasites, water pollution and landfill fires. A landfill fire occurs when waste disposed of in a landfill ignites and spreads.
Until the early 1990’s there were hundreds of uncontrolled landfills in Slovakia. Such landfills were storing not only household waste, but also waste from medical facilities, industrial plants and various hazardous waste directly threatening human health and the environment. The new law prohibits the disposal of waste to uncontrolled landfills. However, illegal landfills can be still found in Slovakia. These piles of waste are often disposed by citizens or by companies. The estimated number of illegal landfills in Slovakia is 6000-8000, according to OZ Tatry even more- 9000-12 000. The abolishment of these landfills is complicated. It happens very often that, when the waste is removed from these illegal landfills, people do not respect it and dispose of their waste at these places again. A big problem is the attitude of people towards environment and unwillingness of people to refer to fellow citizens who pollute the environment of the village and its surroundings. In 2006, “Unauthorized waste management” was adopted to the Criminal Code of Slovakia. However the awareness of environmental issues is still not sufficient and should be risen. What are the consequences of littering and illegal dumping? Illegal landfills have a negative impact on the environment, economy and the health of people. They lead to contamination of soil, water and air and also higher the risk of floods due to the narrowing of the waterways. For a lot of materials it takes a centuries to decompose. Let’s have a look at how much time does it take to decompose for some materials.
Plastic products are one of the most common products in our modern life and one of many types of waste that takes the longest time to decompose. According to an estimate, every year we use approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil just for producing plastic water bottles. Normally, plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Plastic bags take 10-20 years to decompose, while plastic bottles take 450 years.
Disposable diapers take approximately 550 years to decompose in landfills.
Aluminum cans take 80-200 years in landfills to get completely decomposed.
Normally glass is very easy to recycle mainly for the fact that glass is made of sand. Simply breaking down glass and melting it, we can produce new glass. But the shocking fact is that if glass is thrown away in landfills, it takes million years to decompose. According to some sources, it doesn’t decompose at all.
Normally, it takes 2-6 weeks in landfills to get completely decomposed. But if we recycle paper items, we can easily save lot of landfill space, while reducing the energy and material requirements of making non-recycled paper.
The time taken for food waste decomposing depends on the type of food. Normally, an orange peel takes 6 months but an apple core or a banana peel takes around one month to decompose.
- Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years;
- Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years;
- Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years;
- Leather shoes – 25-40 years;
- Milk Cartons – 5 years;
- Plywood – 1-3 years;
- Painted board – 13 years;
- Cotton Glove – 3 months;
- Cardboard – 2 months;
- Styrofoam- It does not biodegrade;
- Nylon Fabric- 30-40 years;
- Tin can- 50 years;
- Ropes – 3-14 months;
- Waxed milk carton- 3 months;
- Aluminum cans- 200-250 years;
- Train tickets – two weeks,
- Canvas products – 1 year;
- Batteries – 100 years;
- Sanitary Pads – 500-800 years;
- Wool Clothing- 1-5 years;
- Tinfoil- It does not biodegrade.