While most developed countries have shifted towards cleaner and more efficient technologies for waste management, developing countries are still grappling with basic challenges in this area. Open dumping and burning of solid waste remain predominant in low-income countries and continues to be practised in many cities in lower-middle and upper-middle income countries. An estimated 2 billion people worldwide lack access to solid waste collection services, while 3 billion people lack access to adequate waste disposal facilities (UNEP and International Solid Waste Association 2015). Approximately 64 million people are directly affected by uncontrolled dumping and open burning at the world’s 50 largest dumpsites, 42 of which are within 2 km of settlements (Waste Atlas Partnership 2014).
Open waste burning emits CO2, CH4, NMVOC and PM, and is a major source of POPs, including dioxins and furans, in many developing countries (UNEP 2014a; UNEP 2014b; UNEP 2015a; UNEP 2015b). In developed countries, the waste sector is also an important source of CH4, metals and POPs. The illicit export of discarded electrical and electronic equipment (ewaste) from industrialized to developing countries (Rucevska et al. 2015) leads to significant emissions of POPs as well as other semivolatile organic contaminants (e.g. other halogenated flame retardants) in the informal e-waste receiving and processing areas (Breivik et al. 2016).