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Study Highlights Municipalities' Innovation when Dealing with Waste
Source: CSIR News
Source Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 24, 2010

Overcoming the waste collection challenge

While formal residential areas in cities and large towns receive and pay for frequent waste collection services, these services are variable to non-existent in informal settlements and the deep rural areas - the main reasons being difficulties to collect charges as well as the general inaccessibility of those areas. In this regard the study found several municipalities employing innovative and alternative ways of collecting waste:

  • The food-for-waste programme at the Hibiscus Coast municipality uses community members to collect waste within their neighbourhood and take it to central collection points, where they then receive food parcels as payment. This approach contributes towards poverty alleviation, while at the same time creating a market for fresh produce from local emerging farmers.
  • The City of Tshwane piloted a walk-in bin concept in Mabopane as an alternative to using skips. A standard 12 cubic meter container was fitted with doors and a ramp to enable easy access for wheel barrows and children. The containers are locked at night to avoid scavenging and have improved the cleanliness of the area significantly.

Collecting and transporting waste is an expensive, logistical nightmare - or not!

The City of Tshwane has come up with a highly effective management plan to minimise the cost involved with transporting and collecting waste:

  • All the city's trucks are leased, thus minimising the capital outlay required. The maintenance of the trucks is included in the lease agreement, which resulted in a significant decrease in down time.
  • Damage to the collection trucks are minimised though an operating routing system. In other words, collection trucks avoid the landfill sites and rather use the garden refuse sites as transfer stations, thereby limiting damage to the collection trucks.
  • Introducing a second shift has maximised the collection process as well as contributed to huge financial savings. Working two shifts optimises the use of the leased trucks. Overtime work is now limited as they are employing more workers but at a fixed monthly salary.

Minimising waste through re-use and recycle

Instead of treating waste at landfill, the internationally accepted trend is to minimise waste by means of re-use, recycling and cleaner production. However, in 2007 the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) found that 87% of municipalities lacked the capacity and infrastructure to pursue waste minimisation activities, resulting in dangerous activities such as salvaging for valuables or re-usable items on landfill sites.

Again, CSIR researchers found that several municipalities have managed to overcome this challenge:

  • Municipalities such as uMhlathuze, George, Hermanus and Overstrand have initiated a double bag system - one colour for general waste and the other colour for recyclables.
  • Garden refuse in many municipalities such as Breede River Winelands, City of Cape Town and Drakenstein, are used for composting.
  • The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality has established a web-based waste exchange programme - available unwanted items are listed and matched with potential users, while end-users may also post the items they require.
  • Abaqulusi Municipality is a prime example of a small municipality with limited resources but remarkable ideas to tackle the problem of salvaging at landfill sites. Pickers are required to get a permit from the municipality to allow them onto the landfill site to salvage. The permit system controls the number of people on the site, time slots as well as what they are allowed to recover. The pickers have to wear protective clothing, and children and animals are restricted from the sites. There may also be no burning or eating on site.

Finally, the Ekurhuleni Municipality is a prime example of where the operation of a landfill site has been outsourced to great effect, with the necessary political support for an effective waste management budget. The metro has also established a rehabilitation fund to ensure rehabilitation of the landfill site upon closure - for every tonne of waste disposed, R7 is deposited into the fund, and they are already planning for the development of a new site in twenty years' time.

In another study, the CSIR is undertaking research to determine the drivers for recycling behaviour and attitudes at household level in South Africa. The toolkit will be available soon from the CSIR website


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