We recently explored the COVID-19 effect on illegal dumping of waste, and it’s clear to see that the problem isn’t going away any time soon. Illegal dumping can be a complex issue, and common drivers can include the convenience factor, an unwillingness to pay for disposal costs, and a lack of consideration for the effects or consequences. So what are councils and cities doing to combat the issue of waste being dumped in urban and remote areas?
Tracking asbestos, tyres and contaminated soil
Previous research by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) found that asbestos waste accounted for up to 8% of illegally dumped waste across NSW. This led to the development of the WasteLocate online system, which tracks the disposal of hazardous substances. Transporters and facilities of asbestos waste, contaminated soils and waste tyres over certain quantities must now register each load with WasteLocate, which uses a GPS-trackable plate to monitor each load like a parcel. The NSW Government can now also monitor repeat offenders with GPS trackers and choose to cancel vehicle registrations if appropriate.
Changing public behaviour and perception
Another key strategy includes the shaping of public perception around illegal dumping. One collaborative effort between the Orange Mountain Bike Club, The Forestry Corporation of NSW, Orange City and Cabonne Shire identified that people would hesitate to illegally dump if they think they’ll be seen or if their social circle will judge them for the action. A Don’t Waste Our Forests campaign was developed around social media messaging and signage, both providing positive messaging about forest experiences and clear signage about fines and waste disposal information.
Addressing the entire waste cycle
Western Australia has a multi-pronged and long-term approach for its 2030 Waste Strategy, including minimising unnecessary waste generation, increasing material recovery and improving public awareness around managing waste responsibly. This strategy aims to minimise the likelihood of illegal dumping by addressing the entire waste cycle; from smarter product design, through to optimising waste disposal infrastructure and building confidence in recycled materials. More states and councils are starting to realise that addressing the core issues of waste management can have significant flow-on benefits.
Government surveillance systems and security still – and will continue to – play an essential role in curtailing illegal dumping, because there will always be individuals and businesses that simply don’t care about the consequences of dumping unless they get caught. Local cities and councils must have effective strategies in place to detect, investigate and prosecute illegal dumping. Most councils now encourage the community to report any illegal dumping they might witness, but strategically placed government camera surveillance and deterrence systems are also absolutely essential to monitor remote and hotspot areas.
These systems should monitor, record and analyse sites in real time in an affordable way. Spectur systems go several steps further than this, using AI to differentiate human movement from other environmental movement and to recognise number plates. The solar-powered system can be set to immediately emit a bright light and an alarm or spoken warning to deter offenders before they dump, as well as sending notifications to the appropriate authority. And video or time-lapse footage is stored remotely in the cloud, ready for further disciplinary action.
Council city surveillance systems and traffic surveillance cameras must also be affordable, and Spectur’s solutions can be purchased outright or hired in the short term as needed. With a comprehensive approach and the innovative use of modern technology, councils are continually developing practical and effective ways to address the costly, dirty issue of illegal dumping.