Don't Litter
02-Dec-2017


Litter is a common menace, which one can witness in all urban areas. Streets, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are mostly covered with food wrappers, soft drink and water bottles, plastic bags, handbills, cigarette butts, tissues and papers etc. Littering is most likely to take place at locations where litter is already present.

Litter has the potential to cause harm to human health, safety, welfare as well as the environment. The harmful impact of litter includes trapping or poisoning animals, killing aquatic life directly through choking and indirectly through its impact on water quality. Littering can be a fire hazard and it attracts pests and rodents.

Litter carry germs, rats are carriers of many types of diseases that make people ill. Litter also cause accidents on roads as drivers avoid litter on road. Young children fall on litter in play grounds and can get injured. Litter also harm plants, vegetation and natural areas.   

There are several factors that may impact on littering behaviour including inconvenience and laziness, absence of ownership or pride for the area, feeling that someone else / municipal workers will pick it up, number, capacity, placement and appearance of litter bins at or near the site, absence of realistic penalties, legislation enforcement, lack of social pressure and lack of knowledge of the environmental impacts of littering.The Municipalities in the country are working and have taken cognizance of the situation and have issued notices to all residents through media that any disposal of trash and litter violations will be not be allowed. A fine of BD 50 will be levied on violators, which was earlier only BD 10. This was approved by the Muharraq Municipal Council and will also apply to people caught damaging property in public parks.

The violators have to be fined as throwing garbage and litter in public places creates unhealthy surrounding for the people who are using these open areas for movement, work and recreation. The situation has aggravated the menace of rats, cats, wild animals as well as bad odours, vermins and disease causing organisms. There are around 20 public parks only in Muharraq and although there is already a general BD10 fine in place for littering, it has done little to bring any significant change in people’s behaviour. The temptation to ‘litter’ is usually motivated by disrespect to the law and its enforcement as well as ignorance and arrogance in our attitude, thinking that the municipal worker will clean our mess.

The authorities have recently planned of deputing Environment police or guards which will be deployed across the country to combat littering, illegal waste dumping and other anti-social practices. It is described as the first initiative of its kind in the region and will be staffed by volunteers from the public, who are being dubbed ‘Environmental Guards’ equipped with special identification badges. The scheme has already been launched in the Northern Governorate and is due to go nationwide following a six-month trial. The scheme will enable members of the public to volunteer their services to protect and safeguard the environment and follow violations.

The initiative has been taken by the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning in partnership with the Supreme Council for Environment and sanitation firm Urbaser, Bahrain.

Litter can be conquered. People can make a difference. It is our responsibility to clean up the litter in an ‘earth-friendly manner.’ Clean communities have a better chance of attracting new business, residents and tourists. There is no reason for any of us to litter because we can always find a litter bin to throw the trash away. 

Let us set an example for others, especially children, by not littering and by carrying a litterbag in our vehicle, securely covering trash containers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter, when visiting parks and recreation areas make sure to leave the area clean for the next person to enjoy and restricting the distribution and disposal of handbills.

 

* Head of Waste Disposal Unit, Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain. (Email: rahmed@sce.gov.bh) 


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