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City of Cape Town urges recycling as waste crisis develops

Urban Waste Management Mayco member Grant Twigg said the City was working on a process to secure additional airspace within existing operations so that airspace could be banked up to 2040. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA)

Urban Waste Management Mayco member Grant Twigg said the City was working on a process to secure additional airspace within existing operations so that airspace could be banked up to 2040. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 25, 2022

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Cape Town - With experts warning that South Africa’s landfills were filling up at an alarming rate and Cape Town’s landfill space set to fill up in the next decade, the City has urged residents to adopt more recycling habits while it implements new projects to extend airspace capacity beyond 10 years.

Institute of Waste Management SA (IWMSA) past president Leon Grobbelaar said cities and municipalities were running into a landfill airspace crisis.

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“Landfill airspace, to accommodate the ever-increasing waste volumes, is rapidly diminishing,” he warned.

Grobbelaar said people would soon witness waste piling up in cities and towns with limited space or places to go. “It is predominantly in the cities now where there is a real crisis, but due to numerous non-compliances at many of the other landfills across South Africa, the public sector will generally not have legally compliant landfills,” Grobbelaar said.

Urban Waste Management Mayco member Grant Twigg said the City was working on a process to secure additional airspace within existing operations so that airspace could be banked up to 2040.

Twigg said the City aimed to extend available airspace by encouraging waste diversion from landfills through a range of services and programmes.

These included new material recovery facilities being constructed, beneficiation of builders’ rubble, operation of a network of drop-offs and the expansion of home composting programmes.

Some of the City’s waste diversion programmes included expanding kerbside recycling collection as new sorting capacity became available and implementing programmes such as the City’s mobile “Swop Shop”, where residents could exchange their recyclables for goods in the shop, he said.

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Twigg added that illegal dumping was a significant resource drain as funds that could be spent on supporting recycling and waste minimisation, is diverted towards clearing illegally dumped material.

The City intends to establish a new regional landfill site, Twigg said.

“Every resident and business needs to take responsibility for managing the waste they generate in a responsible way – it is not acceptable to dump waste for others to clean up, or to litter with the thought that someone else will pick up the mess – we want residents to be responsible citizens and show love and respect for our hometown by keeping it clean,” Twigg said.

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If there are no more landfill space, Grobbelaar said, extensive illegal dumping in open spaces and low-lying areas would take place.

“Waste would then end up in rivers and oceans which would severely contaminate soil, air and water resources and have a major impact on public health.

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