SUPPORTING RESPONSIBLE WASTE MANAGEMENT
Updated: Jan 19
Towards the end of 2020, the waste sector prepared for an increase in the amount of waste and recycling material.
South Africa produces approximately 95 million tonnes of waste per year, of which less than 40% is recycled. In addition to creating jobs and generating income, recycling also saves money by reducing fees spent at landfills, which charge tipping fees and require significant amounts of land. Although the need to recycle has been around for some time, many people are not well informed about which items can be re-used, nor do they understand the different waste streams that are created, according to Joey Barnard, operation manager at waste management company Averda.
There is also a lack of understanding amongst the general public on recycling correctly. The recyclability of an item depends on its ability to re-acquire the properties it had in its original state before it entered the recycling process.
Averda has two materials recovery facilities (MRF) and at the Cape Town one, Barnard overseas 46 employees who all come from local communities. The site receives an average of 700 tonnes of waste per month and from this, 80% is recovered and prepares for shipment downstream to recyclers. The role of these facilities is to sort as much waste as possible and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill sites. More waste ending up at landfills means more methane and carbon dioxide released into the air, resulting in higher temperatures and a likelihood of natural disasters globally.
Businesses and the public can help these MRF’s by disposing of their waste correctly so that more can be recycled and less discarded. For example, items such as bubble wrap, holiday ribbons and bows, cellophane and foam packaging cannot be recycled at MRF’s but can be re-used or re-purposed at home. Cardboard packaging that contains plastic can only be recycled once it has been separated, otherwise it poses a potential hazard to the recycling equipment and an increased health risk to employees.