When he isn’t fighting the war on waste or designing waste management infrastructure, the President of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), Jan Palm, enjoys riding around the country on his Harley Davidson.
Palm is a Civil Engineer by training, but he explains what makes his job slightly different to that of his peers. “Most civil engineers design infrastructure for mankind to live better whereas in waste management we design infrastructure to protect the environment from mankind’s footprint.”
Long before it became ‘trendy’ to recycle and think about one’s environmental impact, Palm saw the need to develop infrastructure to manage waste: “In 1987 I read about the concept of landfills as bioreactors. This sparked my interest and I told my boss that we should explore the field of waste management as a future engineering opportunity. After some debate, I was allowed to ‘look into it’.”
Palm, who was designing sewage treatment projects for the engineering firm GFJ Inc at the time, certainly ‘looked into it’, and his foresight back then to specialise in this exciting and growing field has paid off.
In 1988 Palm established the Solid Waste Division of GFJ, and later rose to the position of Associate and shareholder before becoming a Regional Director of the company in 1995. The Western Cape offices of GFJ became Entech Consultants in 1996, and he left Entech and formed JPCE in 2003. Throughout his career Palm has specialised in designing engineering infrastructure for waste management.
Amongst the noteworthy projects he has been involved in, Palm mentions the first landfill using geosynthetics for the town of Windhoek in Namibia in the early 1990s. “The Windhoek landfill project was innovative in its design and opened up a whole new field of geosynthetics,” says Palm. He is currently working on a state of the art Waste-to-Energy project for the Drakenstein Municipality in the Western Cape.
Palm says each project has been fascinating in its own way, and adds that he finds great satisfaction in helping clients to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and thereby move up the waste hierarchy. He is also aware of the unique aspects of designing waste management plants in Southern Africa: “We have to ensure that our designs balance out mechanical efficiency with the socio-economic need for jobs,” says Palm.
The biggest change in the field of Waste Management has been surrounding legislation, says Palm. “The changing legislation has opened many opportunities for environmental scientists and engineers to improve the level of design and quality of the infrastructure, leading to reduced risk to the environment.” The problem, however, says Palm is when legislation is not enforced.
Looking ahead Palm explains what worries him about landfills. “I am concerned about the pollution burden that poorly located, poorly designed and poorly managed landfills still place on our environment.” He adds that local political will to resolve these challenges appears to be lacking in many municipalities, and that the cost of legal compliance with norms and standards is often used as an excuse to do nothing.
Despite his concerns, the people in the field of Waste Management give Palm hope for the future. “Their enthusiasm, innovation and drive astonishes me,” he says, adding that he is excited about the innovative approaches being followed to reduce our environmental footprint, making green living more affordable.
While Palm seeks to add value in the industry through the various training courses and networking opportunities offered by the IWMSA, his personal dream is to tour around countries on his Harley Davidson motorbike with his wife. “Having done Route 66 in the USA, other countries that come to mind are New Zealand and Scandinavia,” concludes Palm.
For more information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa visit www.iwmsa.co.za. You can also follow IWMSA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA).
Each piece of waste has the potential to pollute the environment in a different way, which is also the reason why there is no single suitable waste management approach to address all types of waste. The waste management hierarchy1 ranks waste management options in order of preference according to the type of waste, and therefore the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) recognises the importance of putting emphasis on the hierarchy in its upcoming its flagship conference, WasteCon 2018.
“It is important that the cycle of waste, from consumer to final disposal is governed by the internationally accepted waste hierarchy, which through its successful application can have several benefits, such as pollution reduction, resource conservation, and job creation,” says Jan Palm, President of the IWMSA. “The application of the waste hierarchy most often starts in households with consumers,” Palm adds.
Household waste can be separated into three parts: solid waste that can be recycled, organic waste (food and garden), and non-recyclables; each type requiring different recovery, treatment and/or disposal methods. Recyclables are repurposed for commercial use, while organic waste should not be landfilled, but rather used to make compost or biogas. Non-recyclable waste is either landfilled or sent to a Waste-to-Energy (WtE) facility to be thermally treated to produce electricity.
“One of the primary waste management challenges today is ensuring that the different types of waste are adequately sorted so that it can be subjected to the correct recovery, treatment or disposal processes,” says Palm. “By being mindful at home and separating waste into its correct category, you are helping to prevent waste from ending up where it does not belong; contaminating the natural environment,” adds Palm.
Have you ever wondered how good South Africa is at sorting and recycling their waste? Looking at a common consumer item, the plastic bag, which is quickly becoming known as South Africa’s unofficial national flower, is one of the biggest environmental burdens posed on coastal and ocean environments. The Ocean Conservancy’s 2017 Coastal Clean-up report2 indicates that during the 2016 effort to clean-up South Africa’s coastlines, plastic bags ranked as the fifth most picked up item. Four out of the top five items picked up all include plastics (plastic bags, food wrappers, beverage bottles and caps), most of which could have been recycled. “Another challenge is that once these items are picked up off beaches during clean-ups most recycling depots are reluctant to accept them as they are dirty and require further sorting and cleaning before they can actually be recycled,” says Palm.
“As we [IWMSA] continue to monitor the waste situation in our country, I would like to encourage all consumers to prevent waste where possible and to give upcycling a try,” encourages Palm.
The topics of ‘zero waste lifestyle’ and upcycling are trending more than ever on social media platforms nowadays. Living a zero waste lifestyle may seem like a challenge, however it can be a great opportunity to cut out short term use items such as plastic bags and bottles, and replace them with environmentally responsible reusable items. By doing this you have just taken a personal step up the waste management hierarchy.
If you feel like you need some guidance on your waste management have a look at the IWMSA’s training schedule, or register for WasteCon 2018 which will provide a wealth of insight into applying the waste management hierarchy. To submit an abstract to be considered to present a paper at WasteCon 2018, visit the Abstracts page on the WasteCon 2018 website.
For more information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa visit www.iwmsa.co.za. You can also follow IWMSA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA).
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Africa is the fastest growing tourist destination. It offers a rich mélange of culture, heritage and natural wonders which draw tourists from all over the world. From rich forests to barren deserts and unmatched wildlife, Africa has everything to offer. However, constant tourism can put a huge strain on the resources, leading to its rapid depletion.
The beautiful continent has already started coming up with new and improved means to counter depletion and make way for sustainable tourism. It has adopted a four-pronged approach to containing the damage caused by some of the major aspects of tourism.
With more and more tourists visiting the continent, the need for production of food has been rapidly on a rise. This has resulted in practices which improve production but also lead to depletion of resources. To counter this, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003.
This aims to allot at least 10 percent of the budget to agriculture. This promotes sustainable practices while also causing a growth in production. Crop rotation, use of natural fertilisers, drip cultivation and rainwater harvesting are encouraged. It is estimated that over the next decade, the production of food will increase to the point of solving a majority of the hunger issue of the continent while reducing wastage and damage to the planet.
Green initiatives by hotels
A number of African hotels are adopting green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and conserve their resources. From planting more trees to recycling and harvesting rainwater to convert it into drinking water, the tourism industry of Africa is going the extra mile to conserve the continent and its precious resources. Some hotels have discarded conventional sources of electricity and opted for solar power.
It has been seen that the green initiatives adopted by the hotels have resulted in greater footfall which acts as a huge incentive for more and more hotels to join the movement. Hotels in countries like South Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, etc. have managed to make an actual and substantial contribution towards the protection of their country’s resources by adopting sustainable means.
Energy efficient tourism
The recent years have seen a huge rise in eco-tourism. Here travellers are offered all the basic comfort and amenities but there is barely any extravagance. It is true that it offers minimum luxury but maximum experience is what one takes back. This is a very useful model of tourism which minimises the damages that are associated with tourism. Solar energy is the primary source of energy while traditional materials and sustainable practices are implemented in order to conserve. African countries are now actively promoting eco-tourism in a bid to offer tourists an authentic African experience as well as to reduce the energy consumption.
It is a known fact that tourism produces quite a lot of waste. Right from food waste to plastic water bottles, the amount of waste that is a direct result of the tourism industry is staggering. To manage the problem of waste, governments have started taking active steps to promote segregation and treatment of wastes to promote a more sustainable model.
There are talks of converting biodegradable waste into biofuel, while on the other hand recycling is given an extra push in order to reduce the quantity of non-biodegradable waste. Segregated waste baskets have been installed at various popular tourist spots and also in cities and hotels. The waste management sector has done a great job in improving sustainable tourism in the continent.
As tourism is increasing, various African governments are gearing up for a greater footfall without causing a strain on their resources. They have been taking active steps to build a sustainable model of tourism and it is their relentless, challenging work that is putting Africa on the road to a completely sustainable development.
Plastic bags are not the problem, consumer behaviour is, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has said in response to its ban by the government on Wednesday.
According to the association, the biggest problem the country faces over the plastic bag ‘menace’ is waste management and users’ behaviour.
The challenge the country faces is in the disposal of the bags, as many of the bags are thrown in garbage heaps and do not break down like organic materials do.
“A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behaviour will not succeed in the long run, as seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa,” said the association.
The manufacturers’ association also said the directive was made without consulting them and will have an adverse effect on the economy.
They said companies in the plastic industry currently employ about three per cent of all Kenyan employees in the country directly and about another 60,000 indirectly.
The ban that was announced by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu on Wednesday in a Kenya Gazette announcement dated February 28.
The ban will take effect in six months’ time.
On social media, however, the move was met with applause by Kenyans on social media with many saying that it was about time that action was taken.
Yvonne Munguti posted: “Good stuff Waziri, now we need to get together and get rid of all the plastic waste and find a proper way to dispose them. The environment will be cleaner and we preserve the environment for our children.”
“I can’t congratulate you at all what do you think all those Kenyans working on those companies will do? Think a lot Madam,” David Mutune was concerned.
Some were doubtful about the implementation of the directive.
“I kept singing about it on this page…at last you have it done it. Yet I doubt if it will be implemented…the Asian Kiambu and Rift valley mafia are more powerful,” said Clifton Karani.
Others were concerned about alternatives bags to be used once the plastic bags are phased out.
Kennedy Obiewa stated: “What alternatives are you providing? If there are none in the next six months then this is an exercise in futility.”
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.
With growth driven by vital reforms in state service—taxation, transport services and waste management—Lagos state remains the economic hub of Nigeria twenty five years after it was replaced as the country’s official capital. The state’s potential to generate revenue has now been boosted even further by confirmation of oil production. Targeted investment is expected to follow the state’s oil production activities and under the terms of Nigeria’s resource control, as an oil-producing state, Lagos will become entitled to a 13% cut of revenues generated by Nigeria’s government through its oil and potentially earning millions of dollars.
Lagos’ success has set it apart as a benchmark for other states in Nigeria. Internally generated revenue (IGR), mainly through taxes stoodat $1.3 billion in 2015—three times more than the state with the second most IGR and 39% of the total IGR by Nigeria’s 36 states. But Lagos’ success looks even better compared to other African nations.
With GDP in 2014 pegged at $90 billion, Lagos’ economy stands as the 7th largest in Africa- bigger than Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, two of the continent’s most promising economies.
A finely tuned IGR model and a growing economy has made Lagos into Africa’s leading city and one of the world’s fastest growing megacities. Now with oil production, it will grow even quicker. Remarkably, Lagos’ immense commercial potential belies its size. The smallest state out of Nigeria’s 36, Lagos’s size area is dwarfed in comparison with Africa’s biggest economies.
While its newly found oil will earn Lagos more revenue, it also presents dangers of environmental effects of oil especially as the state is very densely populated with over 20 million people. A reminder of those dangers lies in Nigeria’s south coast where Ogoniland has been set back by decades of pollution through multiple oil spills. Cleaning up the region is estimated to cost billions of dollars over the next three decades.
By 2050, it’s expected that nearly 80% of South Africans will be living in urban areas. This massive acceleration in rural-to-urban migration was highlighted recently by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel*.
For South Africa’s cities, this influx brings new opportunities, but also a host of new challenges. To serve increasing numbers of inhabitants, cities will need to become more efficient with their service delivery and more engaging with citizens.
Many are touting the concept of Smart Cities – where new technology is used to connect and enhance many of the basic services: like electricity, water, transportation, road networks, waste management, crime prevention, and billing services, among others.
But to truly realise this vision, the conversation needs to evolve from being just about ‘Smart Cities’, to include the concept of ‘Smart Citizens’. As with the introduction of any new technology, the catalyst for adoption is always the end-user. As more and more users start expecting technology solutions in local government, cities will have no option but to prioritise the development of Smart initiatives.
With their expectations now set by high-quality digital solutions from the likes of companies paving the way for future technological advances, citizens are demanding that local government keeps pace with these trends. Our collective patience is wearing thin when it comes to lengthy wait times on calls, long queues, inaccurate billing and poor services.
In fact, today’s digital citizen expects an omni-channel experience – where they can report service delivery issues from the convenience of a mobile app. They expect queries about their property rates to be resolved via a direct message on Facebook or Twitter.
It’s this awakening demand from the millions of residents in South Africa’s metros that will stimulate transformation at a local government level.
In the economic heartland of Johannesburg, the first signs of this are already taking hold. Already we have mobile apps for motorists to report faults on the city’s 7000 kilometres of road, instantly report crimes and suspicious activity, check for scheduled power cuts, find bus routes and schedules, and see upcoming public events.
These apps empower citizens with the digital tools to engage with their City, and generate a culture of shared accountability and transparency.
By receiving tip-offs from citizens on issues ranging from illegal dumping, to serious crime, or burst water pipes and broken traffic lights, the City is able to crowdsource insights from millions of people.
A simple example like the City of Johannesburg’s infamous Twitter representative “TK” shows how a metro can become more engaging and helpful – helping to spawn a culture of public-private partnership and shared accountability. Over 200 000 people now follow tweets from the @CityofJoburgZA account.
By tuning in to the constant chatter buzzing around social media, Cities can understand the most pressing pain points, and start addressing the critical issues first.
But the next step for local government leaders is to integrate these new digital tools into the core of their operations. Crucial to this is the creation of a ‘single view of the citizen’ – giving the City visibility of the individual’s various relationships with different municipal entities – and enabling tailored responses to solve any queries or problems.
To get a sense of just how important this is, the Johannesburg Road Agency’s Find ‘n Fix app already sees over 1000 motorists sending in geo-located reports and photos of potholes, damaged roads, broken lights, and other infrastructure issues – every single week.
Attending to these issues in the most efficient way is the crucial next step in improving citizens’ overall experience and continuing to enhance the reputation of the service provider.
The ultimate dreams of Smart Cities, crowdsourcing, and collective responsibility can only come true if these smaller, focused projects gain traction; and if users continue to play the role of catalyst in getting local government to adopt new technology and new ways of delivering services.
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.
SA IS missing out on huge job opportunities and the creation of new industries that would arise if the country was to invest in waste management, says the director of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa), Stacey Davidson.
With SA generating 108-million tonnes of waste per year, and R17bn worth of other waste products being buried at landfills, recycling offered immense opportunities. “We need to build our recycling industry across all commodities because waste will be the only place where we will get resources from in future.”
Nonprofit Redisa has helped create 216 small businesses and 2,900 permanent jobs through waste tyre management alone over the past two years.
The company’s establishment followed the decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012 that the tyre industry be the first in SA to develop an industry waste management plan.
In 2012 only 4% of waste tyres were being recycled, with the rest ending up at landfills or burnt. The rate has since risen to 35% as at the end of August. An estimated 200,000 waste tyres are generated every year in SA.
Department of Environmental Affairs deputy director-general for chemical and waste management Mark Gordon conceded that waste management was a “big area of opportunity for SA” and could generate as much as R50bn per year.
Industry waste management plans for paper, plastic and electronics were under consideration.
“We hope these plans will be finalised by the end of the year and we also hope to create in excess of 50,000 jobs within the next few years.”
Tyre dealers register with Redisa as collection points for worn-out tyres, which are then collected, stored and processed by the small businesses created through the programme.
With 44% of South African households not serviced for waste collection, emulating the success in the waste tyre industry in others, such as plastic, paper and glass, could benefit the economy.
“As you build up these industries, jobs will be created, which will drive up your taxpayer base and improve your fiscus and the gross domestic product,” Ms Davidson said.
Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Thomson has encouraged the plastics, metals and glass industries to continue with their voluntary efforts to increase recycling.
“Furthermore, we need to encourage all South Africans to become concerned about recycling and make the effort to buy material produced from recycled material,” said Deputy Minister Thomson.
She was speaking on Saturday at the International Coastal Clean-Up project in East London.
The clean-up activity forms part of the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day which was initiated by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986 and has grown with more than 100 countries participating in cleaning up their coastal areas.
“The significance of the International Coastal Clean-up campaign is that it not only promotes awareness of the litter problem, but also draws our attention to the need for better waste management on land,” Deputy Minister Thomson said.
About 1000 volunteers collected around 1395 cigarette butts, 718 plastic bags, 1004 bottle caps, 588 food wrappers and 564 plastic beverage bottles in just one hour.
The beach clean-up covered about 2.5km of the Eastern Beach and this year the clean-up was not only focused on one beach location but on several areas, some of which are further away from the coast.
The areas included the surrounds of the Orient Theatre, Quigney, and Ebuhlanti.
“The International Coastal Clean-up Day once again reminds us of the importance of our beautiful and valuable coastal and marine environment, and the need to take care of it,” she said.
South Africa has been participating in the ICCD event for 19 years and information on the litter and debris removed from the beaches has being forwarded to the Ocean Conservancy to form part of the global beach litter database, Ocean Trash Index, annually.
The information assists in finding solutions on litter management from land-based sources as well as from offshore sources.
Last year at the coastal clean-up event in Kwazulu-Natal, 1400 volunteers picked up 1 877kg (almost 1.9 tons) of waste in just one hour.