The Effects of Improper Waste Disposal

From being an eyesore to releasing toxins, improper waste disposal on any scale can create environmental problems, health problems and even economic concerns. This is also true for older landfill sites, which are often unlined. The lining of landfills prevents toxic substances from being released into the ground water.

Garbage dump outside Buenos Aires
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Garbage in park
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Man looking at liter in park

Littering causes an eyesore, which devalues the land around it. This impacts tourism, businesses and residents alike.

Loss of Resources

Pile of garbage bags
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Pile of Garbage bags

Improperly disposing of waste prevents resources from being reused. This is particularly true of plastics, metals and paper. This loss of resources means a heavier reliance on virgin materials, which often require more energy to make new products than required by reusing existing resources.

Toxin Release

Compacted plastic bottles for recycling
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Used compacted plastic Bottles

Some waste contains chemicals that can be released into the environment if not disposed of properly. Some of these wastes include electronics, plastics, batteries, certain types of pressure treated wood and paint.

Release of Greenhouse Gases

planet earth viewed from space
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Planet Earth

In addition to releasing toxins into the soil and water, improperly disposed waste also releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.


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Garbage dumpster

In many municipalities, improperly disposing of waste results in fines for the person or company dumping the waste. These fines are frequently in excess of what they would have paid for properly managing their waste.

Jail Time

Man's handcuffed wrists
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Man in handcuffs

Depending on what the waste is and the amount, jail time can result. Municipalities vary on how long the times are. Sometimes instead of jail time, municipalities have people who improperly dispose of their waste serve community service time. Usually they end up picking up litter.

Kim Leslie

Kim Leslie has been writing for twelve years and holds degrees from Maryville College and the University of Tennessee. She has written for "Resource Recycling Magazine," "State Laws Recycling Update," "Recycling Laws International" and "Watermarks". She has knowledge of Lupus, GERDs, science education, environmental issues, eldercare, parenting, Pilates and yoga.