Industry experts have been gathering in Cape Town from Wednesday to discuss solutions as SA is running out of landfill space. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Industry experts have been gathering in Cape Town from Wednesday to discuss the fact that South Africa is running out of landfill space and urgent solutions need to be found to what is being termed “the waste crisis”.

The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) will be hosting a conference titled Landfill 2019 to bring waste management professionals together to discuss the issue.

Chris Wiid, Landfill 2019 chairperson from the IWMSA, said: “On average, each person of our total population of 57 million generates up to 2kg of waste a day (more than 125 million tons of hazardous and general waste a year). The major issue with this waste generation is that the majority of it goes to landfill.”

Meanwhile, legislation, passed in August this year bans all liquid waste from landfills - and signalled a massive shift in South African waste laws while placing significant importance on the effective management of such waste by waste producers and the waste industry alike.

Jason McNeil, chief executive at Interwaste, a South African integrated waste management company, said: “With the promulgation of the latest legislation, industrial waste such as liquid wastes will now also need to be recycled/repurposed and/or managed through innovative technologies.

“Typically, recycling is seen as a consumer exercise and is driven by plastic, glass and paper. However, in the waste industry we all have a significant role to play in first, recycling products that are banned from landfill; and second, helping producers find better ways of turning their corporate/industrial waste into some useful products,” said McNeil.

Vice-chairperson of Landfill 2019, Reon Pienaar, said: “Government has placed increased pressure on landfill operators. There’s a strong drive by the Department of Environmental Affairs to drastically reduce waste to landfill.”

According to the IWMSA, most major cities and local municipalities across South Africa have very little space left and are in serious trouble.

“Generally, it will take any municipality at least five years to obtain a waste licence (if there’s no significant public opposition) and an additional 12 months for the construction of a new landfill facility.

“For this to happen, we need to discuss alternative technology that looks at tapping into the waste stream for resources. At the end of the day, we need to alleviate the pressure on landfills,” said Pienaar.

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus