Cape Town – Although numerous waste challenges persist in the Western Cape’s waste management system, several improvements have been made, with a large part of these in the waste reclamation sector as informal waste pickers use their fledgling enterprises to help address waste challenges.
This comes as the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA and DP) called for public comments to be submitted by December 12 for its third draft Western Cape integrated waste management plan to ensure proper waste management planning and address persisting waste challenges.
Some of these challenges include limited waste management infrastructure, low levels of compliance at waste management facilities, high
levels of illegal dumping, limited landfill airspace, lack of budgets prioritised and ring-fenced for waste management, political interference, and escalating waste management costs.
DEA and DP control environmental officer Belinda Langenhoven said that waste entrepreneurs were at the forefront of driving the recycling sector and they played a significant role in waste management, which addressed these problems.
“In order to generate an income, waste entrepreneurs travel many kilometres between suburban areas and industrial areas to salvage possible items that they can sell at formal and informal buy-back centres,” Langenhoven said.
Local government MEC Anton Bredell said: “Recycling is crucial in order to reduce our footprint on the environment, and waste entrepreneurs play an important role in the recycling economy.”
Petco recycling company has been engaging with municipalities on sustainability programmes to improve effective waste management and recycling rates, and key among municipal waste management priorities was the diversion of waste that had value from landfills, as well as accommodating waste pickers in the recycling value chain.
Petco CEO Cheri Scholtz agreed waste pickers had an important role to play in diverting waste from landfill and would play an increasingly valuable role in municipal waste collection systems and rolling out kerbside projects.
Scholtz said: “Their integration advances South Africa’s priorities such as job creation, poverty alleviation, environmental protection and economic transformation.”