The Umsunduzi Landfill site has come under intense scrutiny following a spate of fires in the last year Picture Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
The Umsunduzi Landfill site has come under intense scrutiny following a spate of fires in the last year Picture Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

KZN landfill sites in a sorry state - report

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Feb 9, 2021

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DURBAN - A DETAILED report looking at the state of the landfill sites in KwaZulu-Natal has painted a grim picture of these facilities, blaming municipalities for failing to turn them into lucrative economic opportunities.

The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea), said economic opportunities were being squandered that could be derived from proper management of waste rather than taking it to dump sites.

The department made the revelations during its briefing of members of its committee on the state of landfills in the province.

The report painted a dire picture of the province’s landfill sites, saying municipalities were dismally failing to manage their dumping facilities efficiently.

UMsunduzi municipality has for many years been battling to manage its New England Road landfill, with the facility catching fire on numerous occasions and releasing toxic fumes into the air. Due to the latest fire at the site, the SA Human Rights Commission announced that it was taking the municipality to court for its poor management of the landfill site.

Director for Waste Management Noloyiso Walingo,who delivered the report, said South Africans were consuming then disposing, with very little recycling of waste taking place.

The report established that of the nine district municipalities, only two – eThekwini and King Cetshwayo – were managing their landfill sites well. Staff shortages and lack of equipment all contributed to the poor management of landfill sites.

Some municipalities, the report said, had unregistered landfills and there were about 339 illegal dumps across the province. UThukela is the most affected with 103 illegal dumps, followed by King Cetshwayo District at 42, Zululand at 39, eThekwini at 28 and uMgungundlovu at 20.

Members of the Environmental Affairs Committee urged the municipalities and Edtea to educate the public around recycling and its benefits.

Walingo said previously waste was disposed of, but now there were other options like recycling, and disposal should be the last resort.

The report also said South Africa was recycling poorly and economic benefits that could be derived from recycling were being lost, adding that people opted for disposal more than any other options. The report highlighted numerous challenges with waste management.

It found that there was pressure on waste facilities which were already in short supply, and increased complexity in waste streams due to urbanisation and industrialisation, which presents a problem of hazardous waste mixing with general waste.

The report also identified a backlog of waste services in urban informal areas and in the rural areas, as well as the shortage of recycling infrastructure that would enable the separation of waste at source.

The problems were further compounded by the under-pricing of waste services (by municipalities) and the cost of waste management was not being fully appreciated by consumers.

“Municipalities are tasked with the service which continues to be dysfunctional, and the illegal dumping is not doing us any favours, the unplanned urbanisation in rural settings, increased consumerism that is not matched by services. The lack of wall-to-wall waste management services; lack of enforcement as it relates to waste management,” she said.

The report said a part of the challenge relating to failure by the municipality to manage their waste was that many were failing to appoint the required number of waste management officers as required by law, and some municipalities have outdated waste management plans.

MF committee member Thakur Rajbansi said the department should look closely at the underlying causes of the problems plaguing landfill sites.

“In the Harry Gwala District they had an almost full complement of waste management officers and yet they were performing poorly.” said Rajbansi.

IFP committee member Joshua Mazibuko said based on the report, waste management in the province was in a bad state. Mazibuko said there should be community education and awareness campaigns to educate communities about recycling for their own economic benefits.

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The Mercury

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