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No More Organic Waste to Landfill – by 2027

Composting is the preferred solution for most organic waste

Local authorities have had headaches because of a lack of landfill space for several years. Stellenbosch Municipality currently transports its waste to a private landfill site, while a high voltage powerline is moved that bisects the Stellenbosch landfill site to make way for another cell to extend the life of the site. (It will reopen in 2024.) Increasing emphasis on recycling saw a state-of-the-art material recovery centre being opened in 2021, household recycling programmes implemented and building rubble being separated, crushed and turned into bricks. Organic waste is the next target in reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

At the January 2022 Stellenbosch Town Council meeting an Organic Waste Diversion Plan (OWDP) which aims to reduce the volume of organics waste that goes to landfills was approved for public participation.

In the Western Cape, organic waste makes up 30% of the waste stream. The item that served in front of the council notes that organic waste “should be regarded as a resource that has intrinsic economic value if separated properly and used either for compost, nutrient extraction or as an energy source. In addition, diverting organic waste from landfills will save landfill airspace and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.”

The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) is implementing a 50% restriction on organic waste being disposed to landfills by 2022 with total prohibition following by 2027. Licences for all landfill sites have been amended to incorporate these restrictions.

The OWDP starts with a look at the status quo in Stellenbosch Municipality. (The percentage of organic waste diverted from landfills increased from 24% in 2018 to 48% in 2020.) It then considers relevant literature and legislation and the volume of organic waste created in the municipality before presenting a plan for diverting the organic waste from the waste stream heading to landfill sites.

The plan proposes ‘open windrow composting’ for organic waste treatment and recommends that this process be outsourced with the municipality focussing on providing the supporting systems, such as separation at source and collection mechanisms. It further proposes that a 3 bag / 3 bin system be introduced. This will entail using black bags for landfill waste, clear bags for recyclables and a third bag for food/green waste. In addition to curbside collection, it is proposed that provision be made for drop-off facilities for all areas by 2027. The plan also suggests the provision of home composting bins to all interested households. While the emphasis will be on voluntary cooperation, enforcement of relevant by-laws will be the final resort to achieve compliance with at-source separation. It is also proposed that tariffs be adjusted to promote separation at the source.

The Organic Waste Diversion Plan should be available for public comment in the next few months.

Text: Editorial Desk | Image: Pixabay