Litter refers to different waste products such as containers, papers, plastics, that have been disposed improperly, without consent, at an inappropriate location (streets, countryside). To litter is to throw away objects on the ground and leaving them, as opposed to disposing of them properly.
Littering is a much more serious problem than some think it is, it does not only affect the environment, but it also affects the economy because Zimbabwe is spending millions in ensuring that litter is removed.
Litter just doesn’t appear — it’s the result of careless attitudes and improper waste handling. Is there anything you can do? Knowing more about litter and where it comes from is a good place to start.
Why do people litter?
Generally people litter because:
- They feel no sense of ownership, even though areas such as parks are public property.
- They believe someone else — a municipal worker — will pick up after them.
- Litter is tolerated
- Littering is convenient
- Litter has already accumulated
Litter: The known facts
There are seven sources of litter which include:
3. Household trash handling and its placement (by the gate or roadside) for collection.
5. Loading docks
6. Construction and demolition sites
7. Trucks with uncovered loads
What Can I do?
- Set an example for others, especially children, by not littering.
- Carry a litter bag in your car.
- Keep your yard clean free of things that can blow into the street and become litter.
- When you visit a public area remember to take out what you bring in. Keep trash and recyclables in a bag or backpack until you can put them in a litter bin.
- Talk to your family and friends about recycling to reduce the amount of litter you throw away.
- At home, make sure garbage and recycling bags are tied securely so that loose papers and other items can’t fall out and become litter in your street.
- Do not overfill refuse containers. Exposed garbage will likely result in litter in the street.
- Corporates are encouraged to “adopt” a street in a city/town and maintain it on a regular basis.
- Report areas where people have illegally dumped garbage and debris to your nearest EMA office, local authority in your area and ask that the material be removed.
- Volunteer to help organise a clean-up.
Can I do More?
(i) Ask the organisers of a festival, show, or other outdoor event in your community to make it a “litter-free” event. This can be done by giving out litter bags at entrances and making sure that everyone who attends knows it is a ‘litter-free” day.
(ii) Cover open loads on all trucks
(iii) Encourage a school to start a “clean campus” programme. This could include placement of trash receptacles, litter pick-ups and projects in which students track litter’s origins.
What does the law say on littering?
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.
EMA has a statute that regulates litter. It is clearly stated in Section 83 of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) 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 purposes or at a place which has specifically been designated for such purpose.
Public transporters must put in place sufficient waste bins within their vehicles for use by the passengers as stipulated in Section 23 subsection (2) and (3) of Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007. Section 83 of the Environmental Management Act and Section 23 of SI 6 of 2007 seek to prevent the nuisances associated with the distribution or casting of flyers, pamphlets, advertisements or waste paper upon undesignated places.
It is also an offence for recipients of such materials on the streets, public places or on public transport to throw litter on the street or road.
Section 23 subsection (3) of Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007 authorises the imposition penalties and fines against offenders who dump litter in violation of its provisions.
Littering is bad because it can exist in the environment for long periods of time before degrading and be transported several distances into the world’s oceans.
Effects on humans
- Hazardous materials can leach into water sources, contaminating soil and polluting the air.
- Piles of waste provide breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies and rats which can spread diseases such as malaria and cholera.
- Discarded dangerous goods, sharp waste can cause accidental harm to humans
Effects on the environment
- Accumulated litter is an eyesore/unsightly.
- Decomposing litter produces bad odours causing air pollution.
- When it rains, the litter is swept into water sources, polluting them
As we approach the rainy season, let us desist from littering as it blocks our drainage systems resulting in sewer blockages which have contributed to the spread of water borne diseases such as typhoid in the past years.
Be responsible; remember everyone has a right to a clean, safe and healthy environment.
- Please talk to us. We are always ready to listen. Email: [email protected] or 04 305543 / Tollfree 08080028.