Recycle, recycling friendly and more recycling, over the years this is what we have all been encouraged to do whether at your local retail store, favourite restaurant or government recycling campaigns and even at schools. This alone should have warn us, we are heading for breaking point.
Even though South Africa does not possess formal numbers on the available landfill airspace, those in the waste management industry recognise it is quickly filling up and the country is in the brink of a crisis. Landfill airspace is the volume of space on a landfill site permitted for disposal of municipal solid waste.
Former president of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), Leon Grobbelaar says they had well-run facilities around the year 2000 but their landfill sites are currently in terrible state, the worst they’ve been in decades.
“Until South Africa has a formal policy to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, we will continue to fill up our landfill air space at this frightening rate.”
He says the problem has numerous contributing factor, however, legislation is not one of them as South Africa has some of the best waste management legislation in the world, the problem is that it is not being enforced. He added that they have incorporated what they have learned from other progressive countries into their framework in the form of the local National Environmental Management Act
“The South African Waste Information System (SAWIS) is one example. Users are supposed to submit reports on the tonnages of waste generated, recycled and disposed of to that system, but they don’t because they know there are no repercussions.”
Grobbelaar added that municipalities in South Africa are responsible for providing services for citizens to dispose of their waste and are obliged to ensure additional landfill, however, they just don’t have the means or capacity to do so. Thus resulting in towns and cities’ major concerns in the near future due to lack of planning.
The city of Johannesburg and Tshwane allegedly last had a license or constructed new landfills back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and those are reaching full capacity at a frighten speed.
“However, the licensing and construction process for a new landfill typically takes three to five years, followed by appeals and possible legal processes. So, even if our major cities opted to start this process tomorrow, we won’t have new facilities until approximately 2030.”
He added that we should all be very conscious of what we put in our refuse bags, pointing out that we should have a two-bag system, one for dry items and the other for wet materials.
The first bag, he said should be for recyclable material like glass, tins and paper. “The second bag should be for ‘wet waste’. This includes the waste we generate in the kitchen, such as fruits, vegetable peels, and leftovers. It has the potential to contaminate dry waste and has no real market value.”
“If you are unsure of where you can dispose of your recyclables, garden greens or builders’ rubble waste, you can contact the IWMSA who will gladly assist and point you in the right direction,” he urged.
sPicture: CapeTown ETC