- A ban on single-use plastic in Queensland
will commence in 2021, and will see businesses moving towards re-useable or compostable packaging.
- The World Economic Forum
- estimates that 95 percent of plastic packaging material (or over $80 trillion annually) is lost to the world economy after a short first use.
Land quality and property prices
Waste pollution can result in soil contamination and land degradation:
- Waste can lead to increased concentrations of heavy metals, hydrocarbons, nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, such as solvents and gasoline.
- Discarded items, such as old mattresses, can contain chemicals like formaldehyde that can leach into soils, affecting plant growth and microbial diversity and activity.
- Waste can smother plants and create micro-habitats.
- Plastic waste can significantly alter soil properties, including bulk density, porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity, field capacity and soil water repellence.
- Microplastics in soil can create new water channels that cause erosion and dry out soils.
Dumped toxic waste is a major concern for land and water quality. Areas with a waste pollution problem also tend to have lower than average land and house prices.
Tourism and other industries
Waste pollution can have a significant impact on the tourism potential of landscapes, beaches and waterways. Marine pollution also affects other economic activities such as shipping, fishing, aquaculture and recreation. For example, each year the fishing industry bears significant costs of repairing boats and equipment damaged by discarded fishing gear.
In 2017, the United Nations estimated that waste pollution accounted for worldwide economic losses of $622 million per year from tourism and $51 million per year from fishing fleets
The total negative impact on marine industries is estimated to be at least $8 billion per year
Waste clean up costs
The economic impacts of waste pollution include the cost to government, industries, not-for-profit groups and communities. The exact cost of cleaning up beaches and other areas has not been fully quantified. However, a significant proportion of council resources are spent cleaning streets and beaches, a cost borne by rate payers, whether they contribute to waste pollution or not. Costs include the expenses of not-for-profit groups, such as Clean Up Australia and Tangaroa Blue, as well as the time and goodwill of volunteers.
Companies and major landowners also spend substantial resources cleaning up waste pollution, which may need to be passed on to consumers. For example, sewerage companies spend approximately $2 million annually cleaning equipment damaged by inappropriate materials being flushed down toilets.
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Last updated: 15 January 2021
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Economic Impacts, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/pressures/litter-illegal-dumping/effects-values/economic-impacts.html