The exposure of rural communities to illegal waste dumping practices associated with the lack of or poor waste collection schemes prior to the closure of rural dumpsites under EU regulations and the role of collection efficiency afterward in reducing this critical environmental threat constitutes a key issue in rural Romania. The present study reveals huge amounts of household uncollected waste released into the natural environment outside the official statistics of rural dumpsites. Despite the expansion of waste collection coverage towards rural areas since 2010, the problem of illegal dumping practice is difficult to solve. The improvement of collection efficiency, better law enforcement, and surveillance of environmental authorities coupled with educational and environmental awareness are necessary steps to combat this bad practice. A circular economy paradigm must be enacted in rural regions through separate collection schemes and to improve cost-efficient alternatives, such as home composting, and traditional and creative reuse practices, particularly in less developed regions.
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