By turning organic waste into compost, we can halt climate change, restore soil health, and create jobs. Picure: Supplied.
By turning organic waste into compost, we can halt climate change, restore soil health, and create jobs. Picure: Supplied.

Rethink waste this National Recycling Day

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Sep 17, 2021

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Cape Town -The Organics Recycling Association of South Africa (ORASA) is encouraging people to rethink waste as we mark National Recycling Day today.

According to ORASA, more than 3 million tons of organic waste ends up in landfills every year, causing a detrimental effect on the environment and the climate as a whole.

Melanie Ludwig from ORASA said that by recycling organic waste into compost, one has the power to reverse climate change and replenish the health of the soil.

“The Organic waste that ends up filling up landfills every year has a deleterious effect on the environment due to the production of environmentally harmful methane, greenhouse gasses during anaerobic decomposition of organic material in landfills and leachate production.”

“These effects are the key driving force behind our climate crisis and surface and groundwater contamination, and should be addressed by reducing organic waste in landfills.”

“Hence, I think it is time to rethink waste. Organic waste is anything that was once alive, food waste, garden refuse, wood, paper and computable packaging are just a few examples. By recycling our organic waste into compost, we have the power to reverse climate change and replenish the health of our soils,” said Ludwig.

Director of Mike's Recycling Workshop Mike Khumalo said that the issue of recycling was very important not just from an environmental perspective, but also from a job creation perspective.

“From my perspective, municipalities need to put more effort into investing in communities by encouraging people to participate in recycling initiatives. Most of our landfill sites are not lasting. The life span of these sites are declining due to the fact that municipalities are not doing enough to ensure that the waste that goes to landfills is minimal

“Recycling is an area that can create massive employment opportunities as possible, however, this depends on the amount of time and effort municipalities put into investing and encouraging citizens in our low-income communities, to understand the importance of saving the climate,” said Khumalo.

According to ORASA, as of the beginning of 2022, the Western Cape Organics Landfill Ban will come into effect requiring a 50% reduction in organic waste being allowed in landfills with a 100% ban by 2027.

Ludwig encouraged households to practice home composting in order to produce compost that can be used in their own gardens, while on a larger scale, ensure sustainability, “as composting at community gardens will aid with work opportunities and growing wholesome food supplies for less fortunate communities.”

Khumalo said much more needed to be done in terms of work opportunities in the recycling industry.

“I think that the pandemic was a great opportunity to highlight and give importance to waste pickers who walk around our communities with trolleys looking for waste. This could have been turned into a business and play a huge role in the recycling industry. However, our government missed the green light and decided to pay attention to those big recycling companies and give them a licence to be able to operate during lockdown, overlooking the important role ordinary citizens can play and missing an opportunity to create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate within our communities.”

“So I think it is things like these we normally overlook that will benefit society as whole and our environment. I think there's more work to be done, more investment and developmental training in order to educate our communities about the resources they have in front of them and see how that could be used to propel the recycling industries within our community,” said Khumalo

Weekend Argus

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