File picture: Thobile Mathonsi / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town is rapidly running out of space to dump the vast amount of garbage generated by the growing City and a new approach to the problem is needed, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In April, the province warned that some landfill sites have less than a year of useful life and little appears to have happened since then.

Janine Myburgh, president of the Chamber, said waste disposal was the next crisis the city council would have to face. “It is a crisis that should not exist because it was entirely predictable and plans should have been made. There are no unforeseen factors like the drought.”

She said it was part of the worldwide problem of the overuse of plastic which was now polluting land and sea. It was clear that must greater efforts were needed to extend recycling to all parts of the city. 

“In areas where there is recycling the clear recycling bags are much bigger than the black bags so that should give us a good idea of just how effective recycling could be. In addition, it is an area that should create many jobs for the unskilled.”

In the long term it was necessary to cut back on the use of plastics and to use only those plastics which can be recycled. One example was plastic shopping bags which contained chalk and this made them unsuitable for recycling. “It should be an easy problem to correct, but why are we not doing it?” Myburgh asked.

Another example was the dumping of used motor oil at the Vissershok landfill site. 

“This is completely unnecessary. The Chamber recently entertained a German trade delegation and one of the members told us that he had built a substantial business collecting and recycling old oil. We are dumping a good business opportunity into a landfill site.”

Myburgh said some new thinking was needed in the packaging industry which should find to way to use less plastic. Supermarkets should also look at their excessive use of plastic especially the unnecessary way they pre-packed vegetables.

“I’m old enough to remember when we paid deposits on cool drink bottles. The system worked well and we should use it again. It will mean less waste and there will be income for the poor.”