The eThekwini Municipality's Mariannhill landfill site has won a platinum award at the Impumelelo Innovation Awards for having "the most beautiful landfill in the world".

The site boasts a wetland, picnicking area, leachate waste treatment centre, bird hide and an internationally recognised methane gas-to-energy system.

The landfill is also the only landfill conservancy in Africa and contributes to the sustainable development of Durban's unique landfill development methods.

The Mariannhill landfill site has been in operation since 1997 and accepts about 850 tons of solid waste a day.

The site, which is frequented by school groups and other visitors, also has a plant nursery and an amphitheatre where visitors are educated about how the site works.

Impumelelo, which is an international non-governmental organisation, gives awards for innovative programmes implemented by various municipalities in the country.

Similar programmes have been implemented in Mexico, China, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines, Peru, Kenya and the United States, whose purpose is to encourage innovative governance.

Impumelelo Executive Director Rhoda Kadalie said the eThekwini Municipality had been a perennial winner at the awards ceremony, showing a particular prowess for innovation in water and sanitation.

"Many municipalities can and should learn from what eThekwini is doing to solve problems such as water delivery and environmental problems,"he said.

Previously, Teddy Gouden, Manager of Councillor Liaison and Community Education, won two gold and one silver Impumelelo awards. Ethekwini's customer services intervention regarding water use management walked away with silver in 2005. The eThekwini water and sanitation programme scooped gold in 2004. In 2000, Durban Metro's water sewerage disposal education project won gold.