THE landfill ban of organic waste in the Western Cape comes into effect in 2022 with a requirement of 50% reduction and 100% reduction by 2027. Municipalities who run the landfills must draw up organic waste diversion plans and submit to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. ORASA (The Organics Recycling Association of SA) is assisting some municipalities with these plans. Key to the ban working is making source separation of organic waste mandatory at factories, businesses, restaurants, hotels and households. As yet there is no legislation in place to enforce source separation in the municipal bylaws. New extended producer responsibility regulations also include compostable packaging which will need to be processed into compost and not landfilled.
Why the need?
Eddie Hanekom, Western Cape Director of Waste Management advises that in the Western Cape alone, approximately 40% of all waste delivered to landfill is organic waste, estimated at more than 3-million tons annually. Current rates of organic waste disposal causes significant negative financial, social and environmental impacts, not least by occupying increasingly scarce current and future landfill space, production of environmentally harmful methane – greenhouse gas – during decomposition and leachate production requiring expensive containment barriers to mitigate against surface and ground water contamination. These negative issues present a cost burden where if removed, savings could be allocated to much needed infrastructure projects and stimulate further organic disposal initiatives.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly organic waste, isn’t waste at all and can be turned into valuable compost and nutrients to sustain future food security while creating jobs in the implementation of a new way of collection, commercialisation and creation of composting sites.
How can it work?
Melanie Ludwig, founded Zero to Landfill Organics in 2009 with its first client, Spur Head Office in Century City, Cape Town and is an original member of ORASA.
“We started by composting only 196 kg of food waste per month at Soil for Life in Constantia, Cape Town. In 2010 we moved to a larger composting site located at the Business Place in Philippi and in 2013 we moved to our current site located on the farm Geduld also in Philippi. By 2013 we were composting 35 tons per month of organic waste.
“Today we compost between 100 and 200 tons of organic material per month and have several waste logistic companies using our facility to compost waste from their clients.
“It is envisaged that the collection of residential organic waste – mainly food scraps – will follow a two lidded bucket system.
“A 5ℓ bucket kept in the kitchen which is emptied into a 25ℓ bucket, perhaps kept in the garage or out building which is can be collected every fortnight by the municipality or a private contractor employed by the municipality. The bucket contents are discharged at licenced collection points and residents are supplied with a clean, sanitised new bucket for the process to begin again.
“Pilot projects by the Stellenbosch Municipality to measure efficacy of the programme focused on township residents with positive results; containing the food waste in sealed containers discouraged rats and mice – a constant problem amongst disadvantaged communities” she said. The City of Cape Town is currently promoting home composting by supplying residents with free home composting cones and is also currently giving residents the opportunity to drop off their food waste at four recycling drop offs in the City through a pilot project.
Not a nice to have – a change in mindset required
This new initiative is a long time coming and requires a change in mindset. The way the general public regard not only organic waste but all forms of waste. The Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment under the Extended Producer Responsibility programme will implement legislation from November 2021 to address the recycling of plastics, packaging materials, e-waste, compostable products and other materials.
While these recycled products have a more obvious value, the disposal and treatment of organic waste doesn’t present the same commercial opportunities. Municipalities will have to create or enhance waste management budgets to cater for the necessary management of organic waste without unduly impacting on the already strained ratepayer’s pockets. Channelling the savings achieved by excluding organic waste from current landfill operations looks like a good place to start.
“The most cost effective way to handle residential organic waste is backyard composting. If people want to make a difference themselves, home composting makes sense. Home owners can manage their own food and garden waste and make beautiful compost for your garden for free!” enthused Melanie.
- For more information contact Melanie Ludwig of the Organics Recycling Association of South Africa, Tel: 083 696 5138, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orasa.org.za