Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste occurs in urban areas (streets, parks, car parks or public facilities), roads (highways, motorways) and natural areas (fields, forests, trails, beaches, riverbanks, lakes and deserts). It can be liquid or solid in nature and can vary in scale significantly from a single bin bag of waste to large quantities of waste dumped from trucks. Fly-tipping differs from littering in that it invariably involves the removal of waste from premises where it was produced with the deliberate aim of disposing of it unlawfully, or as a result of legitimate outlets not being available.

- It costs an estimated €100 million every year to investigate and clear up. This cost falls on taxpayers and private landowners.

- Fly-tipping poses a threat to humans and wildlife, damages our environment, and spoils our enjoyment of our towns and countryside.

- Fly-tipping undermines legitimate waste businesses where illegal operators undercut those operating within the law. At the same time, the reputation of legal operators is undermined by rogue traders.

As with other things that affect local environment quality, areas subject to repeated fly-tipping may suffer declining property prices and local businesses may suffer as people stay away.

In all cases, uncontrolled dumping is a problem arising from the uneducated behaviour of citizens or the deliberate choice to avoid paying fees or the inconvenience of going to an official refuse collection point. However, it is even more serious in natural areas where the municipal infrastructure of collection and cleaning services do not reach.

All fly-tipping constitutes an environmental attack especially when the rubbish that is dumped is packaging, for which a major effort has been made throughout many European member states since the 1990’s to provide urban areas with containers (blue for paper and cardboard, green for glass, and yellow for metals, plastics and paperboard for beverages) and plants that allow recycling of all such waste.

When these expensive infrastructures are not in use it is a substantial economic waste, putting additional strain on the already limited resources, which taxpayers provide, of some local authorities.

Where do we find it?

There have been several studies that have shown that garbage often attracts garbage. Where fly-tipping occurs the waste is accumulated, and its volume rapidly increases, causing similar unnecessary behaviour by other people.

A clean area, by contrast, deters the illegal disposal of waste and contributes to prevent fly-tipping.

Although fly-tipping can occur under any circumstances. There are some particularly sensitive places that suffer this environmental aggression:

Tourist areas such as:

- Beaches: Many European countries have a extensive coastline and innumerable beaches. Many of them have municipal cleaning services during the summer. But others which are less popular often lack such services. And a significant majority do not have any form of cleaning service outside of the tourist season.

- Camping areas: campsites and excursion destinations. With wild camping becoming more popular amongst the younger generations, it is even more important to educate them on the correct handling of their waste.

- Natural Areas: forests, deserts, natural parks and hiking trails. These often hard ot reach areas are already defenceless spaces even before the aggression of fly-tipping.

- Rivers and lakes: Rivers are especially prone to fly-tipping and waste disposal from industrial areas, as there is a false belief that the water will take care of the problem and rid the environment of often toxic substances.

- Outdoor events: concerts, festivals, sporting events that attract large numbers of people who will purchase and consume products and generate waste.

- Roads: Drivers, even on short journeys, will often consume, amongst other things, food, drink and tobacco. But the simple gesture of opening the window to throw such items out is too frequent. The increase of areas where you can easily purchase products on the road, is also adding to this problem.

- Public areas, such as bus and train stations are all too often places where litter can accumulate.

Especially when rubbish bins can be scarce or non-existent due to security risks.

Who creates it?

We all have the responsible for keeping the environment clean and we should all be involved in the task of preventing this abandonment of our rubbish.

Research has found tha there are three types of easily defined behaviours:

More and more are becoming aware of their civic responsibility, and in all cases will properly manage the waste they generate. If there are no bins or containers available, they will keep the waste until they find somewhere to deposit it. That behaviour will not change, whether they are in their place of residence, their work, on vacation or travelling. This type of person will educate their children as to the correct civic behaviour in this matter.

The majority of people may not have a firm discipline nor a solid conscience with regard to their responsibility towards others and their surroundings. These are people who generate problems of fly-tipping “by convenience”: if they do not find the means to dispose of their waste correctly in their immediate vicinity, they have no remorse in abandoning it anywhere. However, if they have the means to dispose of their waste, they will be more inclined to use them.

This final group are People who have no moral qualms towards shamelessly emptying the car ashtray out of the window, ignore waste bins, and who consider it normal to dispose of any waste generated where they have consumed the products or where it is most comfortable or most convenient. They have an attitude of total indifference to the efforts of those who behave properly and ignore the means at their disposal for the proper management of waste. They will obviously not worry about training future generations in the correct manners of waste disposal.

There is no stereotype of a fly-tipper. People from any walk of and social status, young or old have been seen throwing and dropping garbage indiscriminately.

There are several types of activity which can be associated with fly-tipping:

Cyclists or pedestrians who do not use litter bins or do not carry bags in which to put their waste.

Drivers who use roads and natural areas as personal landfills.

Trucks and lorries that are not properly covered.

Builders who consider any area is good enough as long as it is convenient.

Leisure and natural areas with insufficient supply of containers to deposit the waste.

What happens to the rubbish we dump?

Once produced, and regardless the process of generation and disposal, fly-tipped waste will move. Wind, rain and other natural phenomena will disperse the rubbish from its original location until it ends up in gutters, in hedges, in forests or natural areas or indeed anywhere else.

It is estimated that 22% of uncontrolled waste ends up in streams, rivers, and in the oceans.

It causes land pollution, which affects human health and causes serious health diseases. Such as- several types of cancer.

The toxic material that pollutes the soil get into the human body directly by breathing in polluted dust and also by eating fruits and vegetable that have been grown in polluted soil.

When fly-tipping occurs, days, weeks or months can pass before it may be possible to clean the area, which is particularly true in large natural areas, where the garbage may not even be noticed. In some cases, years or even decades will pass before anything is done. In the meantime, animals attracted by organic remains will tear open the bags and scatter the contents.

The solution to fly-tipping does not reside in the cleansing, but in the prevention.

The Effects

Dumping foreign objects in places they don’t belong can have a huge impact on the natural, social and economic environment. Potential chemicals in such waste can contaminate soil, for example – and if the land is owned by someone whose livelihood depends entirely on soil conditions, fly-tipping can have a catastrophic effect. Animals who use the soil can also suffer health problems as a result of fly tipping, whether it’s farmland or simply a public park. The illegal dumping of waste on public land can have a real impact on local wildlife.

Disease transmission is also a problem when it comes to fly-tipping. If the waste contains anything a rodent might eat for lunch, fly tipping can cause real problems with pest control and mouse or rat infestations. These animals are renowned for spreading diseases (would you expect anything less from a creature whose home is the sewer?) and they’re generally a huge nuisance, especially for those who live in close-knit urban areas, like the majority of large cities.

When people look for a place to fly tip, the main criteria are that it has to be a quiet, remote location where they won’t get caught. What they don’t consider is that the location of their waste can have real repercussions on the surrounding environment. For example, if waste is dumped in a river or a canal, it can cause blockages that are potentially hazardous to anyone who frequents the area. The sight of a discarded shopping trolley in an urban canal might be so common that we barely notice it, but the introduction of a foreign object into this environment can have a hugely detrimental impact on ducks, birds and other wildlife.

Many people dispose of hazardous materials when they fly tip – purely because they can’t think of another way to get rid of a potentially dangerous substance. Here at P3 Ambiental, we feel disheartened whenever we see that fly tipping has occurred. We want to keep waste out of landfill – but seeing it cluttering up our streets is not the solution! Our comprehensive fly tipping removal service gets rid of all waste safely and securely, taking the first steps to restoring the environment to its former glory.

What can we do?

Each and every one of us has a duty to assume the responsibility for the protection, maintenance and cleaning of the environment.

We must also strive to educate others by example.

Never drop litter or fly-tip and be sure to deposit your waste where it can be handled correctly.

Educate future generations in correct behaviour and responsibility towards the environment.

Recycling food and drinks.

If there is no obvious area to dispose of an item, bring it home to be disposed of.

Do not throw away newspapers, magazines or any other form of paper products in with the general trash: put them in one of the blue recycling container.

With an educated society this whole problem can be avoided. It will leave a better environment for our children and our children´s children.