GOING TO WASTE: Because the recycling effort is not collective and “all-inclusive”, a paltry 1%, or 544.25 tons, is recycled, the writer says. Picture: Etienne Creux
According to a recent report by the World Bank, South Africa produces 54425 tons of trash every day, with each household churning out an average of 2kg of waste daily.

The report further states that of the household waste generated, 17% is paper, 10% plastic, 5% glass and 4% metals. Thus 36%, or 0.72g of each household’s waste, a sum of 19593tons of perfectly recyclable waste, is thrown away and ends up at landfills or is illegally dumbed.

Because the recycling effort is not collective and “all-inclusive”, a paltry 1%, or 544.25tons, is recycled.

This with the country’s statistics of 26.6% unemployment, 33% of the population social grant recipients, underfunded public schools, millions spent on general public services and even more spent on supplementary feeding schemes at poor public schools in poverty-stricken communities.

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Unless this country’s political leaders and decision-makers are of the opinion that there is an infinite supply of money and are blind and ignorant, not only to the effects of pollution pandemic but also to economic opportunities it presents, then this country sadly is treading all the too familiar path of many failed African countries.

It obvious the government’s view on waste is constricted, narrow and limited because as it stands, the conditions couldn’t be any better to make household recyclable waste the next “gold rush”.

As a matter of fact, poverty-stricken communities’ streets in South Africa, like the rest of Africa, are paved and dripping with gold; now is the time to “mine” and exploit this newly found wealth to better the lives of our people and realise the African dream.

This country is capable in a very short period to give the world a very effective, zero-cost, all-inclusive recycling strategy to reverse and stop pollution, create thousands of meaningful jobs, drastically reduce government expenditure and jump-start the recycling industry - all this while creating a platform from which to launch many other environmentally-friendly campaigns.

Here is the blueprint of how South Africa can give the world a solution to pollution:

The Ministry of Education must first authorise recyclers and collectors to put up collection points at every primary and secondary school and allow learners to bring recyclable household waste to school to dump into designated bins.

Recyclers and collectors will sort the waste on-site, then buy the waste from schools at market price, giving schools a much-needed passive income. This is an effective, zero-cost and an “all-win” approach to stopping the pollution pandemic.

Advantages are:

  • Stopping and reversing the pollution pandemic, cleaner air, underground water and environment.
  • Creation of employment: with 24400 existing public schools, more than 48000 immediate meaningful jobs could easily be created on-site, and thousands more downstream.
  • Lowered operational costs for collectors and recyclers, resulting in rapid growth of the industry.
  • Much-needed perpetual extra income for schools to supplement their meagre budgets.
  • Lowered government costs and expenditure, that is, millions saved in general public service costs.
  • Better-equipped schools and well-fed learners, improving the morale of teaching staff and learners alike.
  • A hands-on and practical approach to conservation and recycling by learners.
  • The establishment of a national platform from which to launch many other eco-friendly campaigns.

* Pfuma Cecil Mubvumbi’s quest is to find a solution to pollution. E-mail: [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus