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Johannesburg’s choking landfills


by Rudzani Musekwa
The city of Johannesburg has prioritised recycling, because its five main landfills are fast running out of space.
South Africa generates some 108 million tons of waste, with expectations of the waste rising each year.
In 2001 South Africa signed the Polokwane Declaration to say that by 2022 there will be a 75% diversion of recyclable materials from landfills.
According to Musa Chamane, waste campaign manager at Ground Work SA, enough wasn’t being done in terms of recycling in the country, especially by big companies.
“This is becoming too much of a burden for landfills in the country,” he said.
Chamane said that our landfills were lacking in capacity as the waste was rapidly rising.
“We encourage recycling because besides being good for the health of the poor, it also creates jobs, giving poor people a means for survival.”
Chamane said that there was not enough awareness of recycling and its benefits. By the end of last year, the city had come to the conclusion that it was running out of landfill space and embarked on an aggressive campaign to promote recycling.
Johannesburg has only five landfills.
The reason for the lack of space is a lack of household-waste recycling, coupled with increased urban migration, which has put strain on the city’s waste-disposal efforts.
Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe of the city of Johannesburg last year joined waste management company Pikitup and developed an aggressive waste-minimisation strategy. Mfikoe said at the time: “As the city of Johannesburg, we are gearing towards moving away from the traditional hierachy, whereby 93% of waste is disposed of at landfill sites, and towards a new paradigm, in which only 7% of waste will be deposited at landfills, by 2040.”
The National Waste Management Strategy, developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs, aims to ensure that all metropolitan municipalities, secondary cities and large towns have initiated separation-at-source programmes by next year.
Activists like Chamane believe that the government needs to show its commitment to ensuring the good health of its citizens by implementing and regulating waste management.
Source: The New Age

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