Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Tuesday encouraged entrepreneurs to look to the R25 billion waste sector for business opportunities in the recycling economy. Speaking at the second annual Waste Management Summit in Umhlanga, Molewa said that the waste sector had been identified globally as a critical sector with the potential to contribute substantially to the generation of jobs within the green economy.
Speaking at the second annual Waste Management Summit in Umhlanga, Molewa said that the waste sector had been identified globally as a critical sector with the potential to contribute substantially to the generation of jobs within the green economy.
She said that a waste information baseline study conducted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) revealed that only 10% of waste generated in South Africa was recycled in 2011 and out of 108 million tons of waste generated, 97-million tons was disposed to landfill.
This was the first summit to be open to all stakeholders in South Africa’s waste sector. Previously, only government officials were allowed to attend.
“This is in recognition of the need to streamline the coordination of waste management initiatives within the country and bring together all the role players. These includes other government departments, provinces, municipalities, private sector, civil society and the general public in order to ensure that the plight of waste management is elevated as part of government’s service delivery agenda,” said Molewa.
In 2011, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy which required all South Africans to play a role towards the achievement of the eight goals contained in the strategy.
Goals one and three required the diversion of 25% of recyclables from landfill sites and the creation of 69 000 new jobs, 2 600 additional work opportunities in the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) sector and cooperatives in the waste sector in 2016.
“We are here because we want to address the challenges facing the sector, but we are also here because over the next few days we want to explore practical solutions to these challenges, primarily through technological innovation,” said Molewa.
She said according to the General Household Survey 2014, which was aligned with the National Domestic Waste Collection Standards, 75% of South African households have access to waste services, and it was expected that this number would reach 80% by 2019.
Molewa said that for all economies that want to get ahead, entrepreneurs were needed and that the waste sector was no different.
“It is by nurturing and supporting new entrants into this space that we are able to bring new life to the innovative new technologies being discussed at this waste summit.
“It is through supporting these emerging enterprises in South Africa that jobs will be created, and avenues for new markets opened.”
Molewa said the DEA was continuing to work to “get the basics right” on waste management.
“In this regard we have prioritized the licensing of waste disposal sites. We continue to engage and empower communities affected by the negative impacts of illegal dumping and poorly managed landfill sites as well as bolstering compliance monitoring and enforcement capacity and the implementation of authorised waste management best practice.”
he said that “toxic justice” was an important discussion to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens were protected and that polluters were held responsible and prosecuted.
The three-day summit ends on Thursday.
Uitenhage and Despatch will be focused on during the implementation of a pilot project, attempting to curb illegal dumping. This crucial project is themed Love Where You Live.
Launched by Executive Mayor Dr Danny Jordaan, intensive cleaning of illegal dumping sites started in KwaNobuhle and will continue over the next three months in areas such as Rosedale, KwaLanga and Despatch.
Dr Jordaan highlighted the benefits of a clean city on the local economy, the tourism sector and the overall benefit of having an attractive city.
Trucks will be deployed in the targeted areas coupled with an education campaign to highlight the consequences of illegal dumping and to inform communities how they can assist the municipality to deal with this unsavoury practice.
The Love Where You Live clean-up campaign will branch out to Port Elizabeth areas next year with the Northern Areas, Motherwell, Walmer/Gqebera, KwaZakhele, Soweto-on-Sea and Zwide identified as potential focus areas.
Municipal leadership encourages residents to report illegal dumping as fines of up to R2 000 can be issued when offenders are identified when reported.
- For further information regarding anti-littering specifically in Uitenhage and Despatch the public is welcome to contact Waste Management at 041 994 1137 or Environmental Health at 041 994 1296 during office hours.
JOHANNESBURG’s residents and businesses can no longer continue putting all their rubbish in one bin and expect Pikitup to collect it, take it to a landfill and dump it.
At present, the city generates 1.8-million tonnes of rubbish a year, which is sent to four landfill sites: Marie Louise, Ennerdale, Robinson Deep and Goudkoppies. But at current trends and with 90% of mixed waste going to landfill sites, the city will run out of space in seven years.
Pikitup MD Amanda Nair says it would cost more than R1bn to build a new landfill site, taking into account engineering, lining, drainage and road networks.
It costs the city R600m a year to clean the streets and deal with illegal dumping.
Pikitup, which last week was hit by a violent strike, serves an area of 1,625km² and is responsible for cleaning and sweeping 9,000km of streets in the City of Johannesburg’s seven regions.
An independent refuse removal company has been hired to move the 30,000 tonnes of rubbish that has piled up on the city’s streets because of the industrial action, while management and South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) leaders have agreed to meet on Monday.
Pikitup spokesman Jacky Mashapu said the strike cost R1.25m a day.
In some countries, there is zero waste to landfill because residents separate their rubbish into different streams for recycling or incineration. Even though there is some recycling in SA by informal reclaimers, the country is a long way from the levels of resource reuse in China, says Ms Nair.
For the past few years, Johannesburg has run a separation-at-source pilot project in a few suburbs. From next year, this has to be rolled out across the city, involving co-operation from all stakeholders including Pikitup employees, residents and the informal sector, Ms Nair says.
Waste is a resource around which small businesses can be built and jobs created.
About 18 months ago, Pikitup approved a waste-minimisation plan. It is drafting a resource, recovery and logistics plan, which includes looking at how Pikitup’s infrastructure needs to be adjusted for a different way of handling waste in future. For example, the old garden refuse sites are being adapted to become service centres taking streams of recyclables.
Other collection vehicles and incinerators will be needed.
“Our primary goal is not raising revenue but reducing the amount of waste to landfill,” Ms Nair says. “Our plans will allow other partners to extract economic value from waste.”
But the streets around Pikitup’s Braamfontein head office last week showed signs of a hasty clean-up by Pikitup executives and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau. Within two hours, their efforts were obliterated as aggrieved Samwu members re-energised their protest by overturning more dustbins.
Ms Nair, who helped sweep the streets, says strikers had not tabled any formal demands.
An interdict was obtained to halt the strike and an ultimatum issued to workers to return to work or risk dismissal.
Efforts to get comment from the union at the weekend failed.
Last year, Ms Nair was suspended over allegations of impropriety in the award of a tender. In February, she was cleared of charges and reinstated as MD.
The utility has announced a R600m turnaround, from a deficit of R432m in 2013 to a surplus of R181m this year. The improved performance stems from a five-year plan to focus on better revenue collection, reduced overtime and improved fleet performance.
Chief financial officer Suren Maharaj says 90% of Pikitup’s revenue was earned from domestic clients and 10% from commercial clients. There is limited room to improve domestic revenue, collected on Pikitup’s behalf by the City of Johannesburg. But by ensuring better service to commercial customers, Pikitup has reduced bad debts and improved collections.
THERE are downsides to Johannesburg being the country’s economic heartland — its residents produce mountains of waste that throttle its overflowing landfills.
On average, Johannesburg residents generate 6,000 tonnes of waste daily, while the typical South African churns out about 2,068kg a year.
This poses serious problems for the city’s authorities on multiple fronts. On average, illegal dumping costs Johannesburg R170m a year and the scourge is a serious health hazard because medication and electronic waste make their way into landfills, says City of Johannesburg waste entity Pikitup waste minimisation strategy director Musa Jack.
Rising electronic waste — among which are everyday gadgets including cellphones and computers — also constitutes an environmental danger because it contains toxic substances such as arsenic, lead and barium.
Ms Jack says: “We have electronic waste disposal bins available around the communities we serve … (But this) is not the only thing that is hazardous to the environment — nappies (are another danger), especially when children are playing next to the waste.”
Although the challenges seem insurmountable, Pikitup is making inroads — its waste separation at source initiative has seen 83,000 tonnes of rubbish diverted from the city’s landfill sites, says Ms Jack.
But this figure could be much higher if more households took part in the programme that was first introduced in selected areas with the aim of curbing illegal dumping, and recycling.
Since its inception in 2009, 450,000 households have been reached, but only 21% are active participants. Ms Jack cites as contributing factors a lack of understanding of the importance of recycling and individuals slipping back into old habits.
Pikitup deploys young trainees to households in their communities to preach the gospel of recycling, but this is proving a difficult task.
One of the ways Pikitup is intercepting illegal dumping is through the provision of multiple refuse bags to households so that residents can separate their rubbish.
Also, the entity has budgeted R50m towards this objective in the 2015-16 financial year.
Controlling illegal dumping reduces the amount of methane gas emitted into the air.
Prof Suzan Oelofse, of the Institute of Waste Management Southern Africa, says the separation at source initiative has a number of environmental benefits.
She explains: “(It) not only assists in diverting waste from landfills, but also increases the quality of the recyclables available for recycling. Clean recyclables can be recycled into higher-value products than dirty or mixed (ones).”
There are potential economic spinoffs from adopting a greener approach to waste management, she says, citing the long-held ethos among environmental diehards: Moving waste up the hierarchy towards reuse, recycle and recover.
Recycling reintroduces resources to the economy, lessens the burden on finding virgin resources, and contributes to job creation.
Joburg generates R4 285 tons of waste a day: soon there’ll be nowhere for it to go, writes Musa Jack.
The City of Joburg is fast running out of landfill space. If residents don’t change the way they handle rubbish, in seven years’ time, there won’t be a place to dispose of such waste.
But it would be naive to confine the challenges of waste disposal to Jozi residents alone, as the city is a beacon of hope not only for ordinary South Africans; it attracts an inflow of people from beyond our shores who are seeking a better life.
These patterns of migration put pressure on the service offerings of the City of Joburg, particularly on the management of waste disposal.
According to the statistics recorded at four landfill sites managed by the city’s waste management company, Pikitup, Joburg generates about 4 285 tons of waste daily.
Close to 90 percent of this mixed waste ends up being disposed of at these landfill sites.
Disposing of waste at landfills isn’t the only option. In fact, it isn’t the preferred option, because waste isn’t rubbish, but a resource.
The waste being generated by households, businesses and industries is valuable material that can be re-used, recycled or recovered in one form or another.
Pikitup has developed plans to ensure a radical transformation in the manner in which waste is perceived by those who generate it.
This transformation offers ways of managing how domestic waste (paper, glass, plastic, cans, garden waste, food waste, e-waste and builders’ rubble) is handled.
The interventions articulated in the plan include the promotion of recycling, processing garden waste to make compost, using food waste to generate biogas, recycling construction material, and using residual waste to generate electricity which, in the future, will be critical in contributing to the power challenges being experienced countrywide.
This further emphasises the point that domestic waste is a resource that can be re-used or recovered for use as an alternative by-product.
Some of the interventions require changing consumer behaviour towards waste; a behaviour that requires a revolutionary mindset that embraces an attitude that business as usual is irresponsible, particularly towards the well-being of future generations.
The path that Pikitup and the city are embarking on in terms of a transformed relationship with waste will be a fruitless journey without the citizens of Joburg coming on board and viewing themselves as partners.
Two of the areas residents need to take responsibility for are littering and illegal dumping.
We need to move to a point where throwing a piece of paper or a cigarette butt on the ground and, certainly, dumping illegally in open spaces is frowned upon because this questions the extent to which we, as citizens, take pride in our beautiful city.
Most people don’t realise waste is linked to climate change.
The manufacture, distribution and use of products as well as the management of the resulting waste all use energy that results in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.
Separation at Source, a recycling programme, has been rolled out by Pikitup in selected parts of Joburg.
In the course of this year and next, the plan is to give all the city’s suburbs an opportunity to separate their recyclable waste at their homes.
Pikitup does acknowledge that, in this regard, it has a responsibility to make it convenient for citizens to recycle and also to help them understand why they should recycle.
In collaboration with communities through its Jozi@Work programme and private sector players, Pikitup aims to continue rolling out the necessary infrastructure to make it easy for residents to join the recycling crusade.
Still, all the infrastructure in the world will be pointless unless the households, businesses and schools of Joburg make a conscious decision to change their behaviour towards waste.
Embracing responsible waste management practices, as our collective responsibility, will contribute tremendously to enabling Joburg to foster its world-class African city status.
It will also help us to achieve the target of diverting 93 percent of waste from landfills by the year 2040 in line with our plan to minimise waste.
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