• Staff writer


Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town all have less than ten years of useful landfill life left. Waste management is the least prioritised service in most South African municipalities, lagging significantly behind housing, water, electricity and road infrastructure.

The country’s eight Category A metropolitan municipalities generate the largest volumes of waste – about 10 – 20 million tons per year, the bulk of which is landfilled.

Infrastructure consulting firm AECOM’s integrated approach to landfill assessment allows it to assist its clients throughout the landfill lifecycle, from site identification and landfill design through to rehabilitation and closure planning. AECOM also provides advisory services as well as technical expertise to ensure legal compliance related to waste management and water use.

The regulatory aspect is critical, especially due to the large number of unlicensed landfill sites in South Africa. It takes 9-12 months to obtain environmental approval, in addition to all the supporting specialist technical studies that are required. Many municipalities struggle to get this right and it is a historic problem, given that many landfill sites are quite old and started operating long before the latest environmental legislation came into effect.

The process of landfill closure and remediation is legislated by the National Environmental Management Waste Act, the Water Act and the Waste Management Series. Landfills may need to be closed for various reasons, including groundwater pollution, air pollution or dolomitic ground conditions which can result in water ingress and sinkhole formation.

Following closure and remediation, the landfill site is subject to a recommended post-closure monitoring period of up to 30 years in order to monitor the groundwater quality in and around the waste body. The landfill will most probably also require a methane management system so as to prevent methane build-up, fire risk and air pollution.


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