City’s refuse cri­sis looms ever larger

Land­fills are on the brink of ca­pac­ity

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - LUKE FOLB

SOUTH Africa dis­poses of R825 bil­lion worth of re­cov­er­able and re­cy­clable waste every year with much of it end­ing up in land­fills and dump­ing sites.

Around 98 mil­lion tonnes of waste is de­posited across the coun­try’s 826 land­fill sites each year ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs (DEA).

In the State of Waste Re­port re­leased by the DEA in May, it is es­ti­mated that 42 mil­lion tonnes of gen­eral waste was col­lected in 2017, with only 11% re­cy­cled and only 7% of the coun­try’s 38 mil­lion tonnes of haz­ardous waste was re-used or re­cy­cled.

Land­fills in the Western Cape are on the brink of ca­pac­ity with eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, pop­u­la­tion growth and rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion the main fac­tors con­tribut­ing to an in­crease in waste gen­er­a­tion.

The DEA warned ear­lier this year that both the Western Cape and Gaut­eng re­gions could be head­ing for a “waste cri­sis” if so­lu­tions were not im­ple­mented.

Cape Town recorded more than 2.5 mil­lion tonnes of waste from July 2017 to June 2018, with more than 520 000 tonnes of that di­verted for re­cy­cling, rep­re­sent­ing 19.39% re­cy­cling.

Ac­cord­ing to Jo­han van den Berg, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of waste man­age­ment com­pany Averda South Africa, it is “cru­cial” that li­censed and legally com­pli­ant fa­cil­i­ties are used to help min­imise neg­a­tive con­se­quences.

Van den Berg said the Western Cape has done much to im­ple­ment the waste hi­er­ar­chy, but most of the other provinces needed to ad­dress its ap­proach to waste man­age­ment.

He points to the find­ings of a 2016 re­port by Sta­tis­tics SA into the state of ba­sic ser­vice de­liv­ery, which showed that nearly a third of house­holds na­tion­ally lack any kind of refuse fa­cil­i­ties.

Un­col­lected refuse at street level leads to thriving bac­te­ria, in­sect and ver­min pop­u­la­tions, in­creas­ing the risk of dis­eases like sal­mo­nella, ty­phoid or en­teric fever.

Sim­i­larly, waste dumps are breed­ing grounds for car­ri­ers of dis­ease, like rats. Il­le­gally dumped waste has also been linked to res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses.

Ac­cord­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial jus­tice or­gan­i­sa­tion Ground­work, nearly half of the coun­try’s 1 327 doc­u­mented waste dumps are un­li­censed. In ad­di­tion, 58 highly haz­ardous land­fill sites are not li­censed.

“Th­ese are il­le­gally op­er­ated re­cep­ta­cles for un­con­trolled, un­treated and un­man­aged waste. Li­censed land­fills are tightly con­trolled, closely mon­i­tored and highly reg­u­lated to mit­i­gate any neg­a­tive con­se­quences on health and well­be­ing,” said Van den Berg.

He added that the costs as­so­ci­ated with build­ing and man­ag­ing land­fill sites could run over R100 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the City of Cape Town the waste min­imi­sa­tion/re­cy­cling bud­get for 2017/2018 was more than R118 mil­lion.

| BONGANI SHILULBANE African News Agency (ANA)

RE­CY­CLABLE ma­te­rial ends up in land­fill sites.

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