What is littering?
Littering means to throw objects (often man-made) onto the ground as opposed to disposing of them properly in bins or designated areas.
Litter is anything thrown away as unwanted material and accumulates in a disorderly manner.
It consists of waste products such as containers, papers, and wrappers which have been improperly disposed of.
Often people do not consider small items such as gum or even cigarette butts to be litter but these small pieces of rubbish constitute most of the litter found on our streets.
Littering is one of the major environmental challenges in Zimbabwe; its effects are detrimental to humans, animals and the environment.
Litter can exist in the environment for long periods of time before degrading. It can be transported several distances in water bodies, clog our damages our waterways and sewer systems thus costing councils and ratepayers a lot of money.
Primary sources of litter:
Pedestrians dropping garbage in the street or gutters;
Motorists discarding garbage out of windows;
Uncovered loads, items that are not secure can easily be blown out of trailers and cause roadside littering;
Household refuse disposal, animal scavengers and the wind can dislodge unsecure items placed out for collection. Litter can also result from overloading bins;
Poorly secured commercial refuse can easily become litter;
Construction projects, litter can come from uncontrolled building waste and workers’ lunchtime refuse;
Entertainment events, these create a large amount of litter, which can overflow onto neighbouring areas when measures to control it are not put in place;
Illegal dumping; and
Intentional or habitual littering.
What are the effects of littering?
Litter can cause a whole range of problems for everyone in the community. Litter discarded in streets and parks can travel through the storm water system to our rivers and lakes, where it can harm wildlife and aquatic life.
Litter costs money. Removing litter from the environment costs everyone money as it means high council rates in order to employ more workers to clean up the streets;
It is a threat to public health. Litter attracts bugs such as (mosquitoes and flies) and is a breeding ground for bacteria. Items such as broken glass and syringes can be a health hazard in public places;
Litter can be a fire hazard. Accumulated litter and carelessly discarded cigarette butts are potential fire hazards;
It is unsightly and negatively affects the image of towns and cities especially tourist resorts;
Litter attracts litter, it sends a message that it is acceptable to litter;
It can harm or kill wildlife. Plastic litter can choke or suffocate birds and marine life; and
Litter destroys waterways, organic matter such as leaves and grass clippings, clog and pollute waterways.
What does the law say?
The Environmental Management Agency’s mandate is to ensure that every citizen has a right to a clean and safe environment which is not harmful to health.
To this effect EMA encourages all Local Authorities to adopt effective waste management practices in line with the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27), Section 83 which states that “it is an offence to discard, dump or leave any litter on any land, street or road except in a container provided for such purpose or at a place which has specifically been designated for such purpose.”
It is a legal requirement for public transporters to put in place sufficient waste bins in their vehicles for use by passengers as stipulated in section 23 of Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007(Effluent and Solid Waste Disposal Regulations.)This law also seeks to prevent the nuisance associated with the distribution or casting of flyers, pamphlets, advertisements or waste paper at undesignated places. It is an offence for recipients of such materials to litter and section 23 of Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007 authorises the imposition penalties and fines against offenders.
What is the solution?
Every person or authority in control or responsible for the maintenance of any place must always ensure that they provide adequate bins for discarding litter;
Public transporters or any owner of a public conveyance must ensure that no litter is thrown from the transport conveyance;
Individuals are not allowed to discard dump or leave any litter on any land, street or road except in a container provided for that purpose;
Waste bins must be emptied at places which have been especially designated for such a purpose.
Urban or municipal authorities are urged to work with NGOs, International Agencies, the corporate world and other institutions so that they are able to provide adequate facilities for waste management services such as the provision of waste bins at strategic intervals and ensure that they come up with routine waste collection mechanisms.
Did You Know?
The EMA Laboratory conducted drinking water surveillance on bottled water sold by street vendors whose results showed that the water’s microbial content and total coliform count were beyond acceptable limits.
The sources of this bacterium are likely due to unsterile packaging and handling conditions. This also suggests that most of it is repackaged water.
High bacterial contamination in drinking water causes diarrhoea, vomiting and intestinal problems, the effects can be detrimental in children as dehydration leads to death.
Buying water from unauthorised street vendors is not recommended. Value your life and live longer, buy water from reputable shops with retail licences.
The EMA laboratory is accredited by Southern African Development Community Accreditation Services (SADCAS) to do chemical and microbial tests on water.
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