Revealing influencing factors on global waste distribution via deep-learning based dumpsite detection from satellite imagery

Nat Commun. 2023 Mar 15;14(1):1444. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37136-1.


With the advancement of global civilisation, monitoring and managing dumpsites have become essential parts of environmental governance in various countries. Dumpsite locations are difficult to obtain in a timely manner by local government agencies and environmental groups. The World Bank shows that governments need to spend massive labour and economic costs to collect illegal dumpsites to implement management. Here we show that applying novel deep convolutional networks to high-resolution satellite images can provide an effective, efficient, and low-cost method to detect dumpsites. In sampled areas of 28 cities around the world, our model detects nearly 1000 dumpsites that appeared around 2021. This approach reduces the investigation time by more than 96.8% compared with the manual method. With this novel and powerful methodology, it is now capable of analysing the relationship between dumpsites and various social attributes on a global scale, temporally and spatially.