The City of Joburg and waste management company Pikitup have launched a mandatory separation-at-source programme to contribute to increasing recycling rates in South Africa.
Only 10% of the country’s waste is currently being recycled and landfill space is expected to run out in six years’ time if more waste is not recycled.
The programme, which will be implemented from July 1, will require households to set aside post-consumer dry recycleable waste and household generated garden waste for the purpose of reusing, recycling, composting or further processing of these materials.
The city has rolled out targeted recycling, or kerbside recycling, in certain suburbs where the city issues residents with a clear or blue recycling bag, which will then be collected on the kerbside by the city’s service providers on a weekly basis.
City of Joburg Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Nico de Jager explains that suitable materials to be separated for recycling include paper – not pizza boxes or milk cartons as these have been contaminated – and glass, cans, plastic bottles and other plastic recyclable products, which has to be rinsed out so as to avoid contamination.
The city has also developed a network of drop-off facilities across the city so that communities can drop off their dry recyclables, or their garden waste for composting.
The areas where this will first be implemented include Norwood, Lenasia and Midrand.
Soon to follow will be Roodepoort, Waterval, Randburg, Southdale, Marlboro and Avalon.
A full list of wards that will first be targeted is available on Pikitup’s website.
Pikitup MD Lungile Dhlamini explained that the company expects one household to generate 13 kg of dry recyclables a month, which is Pikitup’s aim by 2021, as well as to get the recycling rate in South Africa up to 30%.
However, he added that, based on 2016/17 tonnages of dry recyclables collected during a pilot separation-at-source programme, each household extracted 4.5 kg of dry recyclables a month; therefore, a mandatory programme is necessary.
Dhlamini further stated that rather than enforcing the programme on households, Pikitup will start incentivising households to separate their dry recyclables and will eventually offer rebates to the best-preforming wards.
“[Initially], no penalties will be implemented to effect mandatory waste separation at source, in order for the residents to be given a fair opportunity to improve the recycling rates in the affected areas without the threat of a fine being imposed at this stage.
“The city will also be intensifying its education and awareness programmes to positively influence the recycling rates in the affected areas,” Dhlamini noted.
Meanwhile, in response to questions about the potential impact of the mandatory programme on informal waste reclaimers, De Jager and Dhlamini said reclaimers will not be worse off with the programme.
“Instead, it is expected that there will be more recyclables available at the point of collection where reclaimers typically collect what is valuable to them.”
De Jager pointed out that this programme makes the reclaimers’ work safer, since they do not have to dig through waste to find recyclables.
Additionally, Dhlamini said Pikitup has attracted a corporate sponsor for providing improved equipment for reclaimers, including trolleys and protective gear.
De Jager added that the city is working on having reclaimers inoculated against common diseases that break out at landfill sites, such as Hepatitis.
The city and Pikitup intends to roll the separation-at-source project out to the entire city over the next three years. Until then, unaffected areas’ residents are encouraged to drop off dry recyclables at collection points or at local supermarkets that have designated bins for recycling.