But, believes AfriForum, landfill sites can be well managed and healthy - as long as there is a commitment to maintain infrastructure and encourage recycling - and there are alternatives to be considered.
The organisation undertakes regular audits of landfill sites to ensure adherence to basic standards, and has reported an improvement in results for both municipal and private sites in in the city.
Of the eight sites monitored, Interwaste FG maintained its 100% rating. It was followed closely by Mooiplaats and Bon Accord, sites of The Waste Group.
Among the metro’s sites, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and Hatherley scored 80+, with Onderstepoort at the lowest score: 70. However, this is a great improvement on the previous year.
District co-ordinator for AfriForum Tiaan Oosthuizen said sites that scored 80% or more did meet the minimum legal requirements.
However, AfriForum had found people living off landfills during its audit - part of a national campaign during which it will visit sites in towns where it has branches.
At the Onderstepoort landfill site yesterday, the Pretoria News observed shacks and people working on the site itself. Those there did not want photos taken.
They were engrossed in sorting items, including glass, plastic and paper, and items which could be traded, working systematically with bare hands, despite the unpleasant conditions and smell.
AfriForum said the situation had improved, but there was still work to do. It was encouraging to see that the organisation was able to add pressure for improvements to be made at landfill sites.
“Landfill sites under Tshwane Metro management performed well, but those under private management performed even better. Common problems that AfriForum identified at these landfill sites include theft and vandalisation of fencing,” said AfriForum’s district co-ordinator Lambert de Klerk.
The audits would lead to a report to be submitted to the authorities, including the Department of Environmental Affairs. It also has plans to launch an alternative to landfill sites in co-operation with a waste-to-energy company, the type of project which had been successful in other countries.