Exploring the Waste Opportunity in the Western Cape and Bellville

Examining the role of effective waste management in environmental preservation, pollution reduction, job creation and public health promotion, this conversation dives into opportunities, challenges, solutions, and the key involvement of government and businesses for a sustainable waste management industry in the Western Cape, Bellville and beyond.

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Overview:

Presented in collaboration with The Greater Tygerberg Partnership, this Future Cities Africa episode is with Saliem Haider, Director of Waste Management at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning at the Western Cape Government and Candice Mostert, Founder and Director of Waste-ED.

Episode Summary:

  • 00:00:00 Saliem discusses the challenges of waste management in the Western Cape, specifically the issue of limited landfill space. The city and province are struggling to find space for landfills, with the current landfills in the metro almost fully used up. One landfill has less than five years of airspace remaining. To address this issue, standards for waste management are being set more strictly, but there is a need for more awareness and education on circular economy principles. The education and awareness program should be implemented as early as product development, and people should be informed about what can be recovered and recycled. The role of government and businesses is crucial in fostering efficient waste management practices.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the challenges of recycling in the Western Cape and Bellville, particularly the issue of communication and misinformation surrounding recyclable products. The speaker also touches on the need for consumers to influence retailers and manufacturers to create sustainable products. The topic then shifts to organic waste and the importance of addressing the waste crisis. The system problem, including recycling in South Africa, is also discussed, with issues such as the product's value and local recycler demand being factors in leading to landfilling of recyclable materials. Despite challenges, the Western Cape, represented by the recycling rate of 25%, has the potential to improve its recycling rate significantly.
  • 00:10:00 In this section the speaker discusses the concept of a circular economy as a more sustainable alternative to recycling. The speaker argues that recycling alone is not enough, as Glass and Metal can only be recycled for a limited number of times, and plastic products will eventually end up as landfill. The speaker also mentions the importance of improving the lives of individuals and creating job opportunities through circular systems. They cite examples of zero waste stores and a food waste composting system implemented in Cape Town. The speaker also expresses their excitement about the opportunities for job creation and improved social issues through circular systems.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, the potential impact of a waste management initiative in Bellville in discussed, which is aimed at reducing food and garden waste and using it to create organic compost. The project, which has already diverted 27% of organic waste from landfill, is seeing positive results and has the potential to significantly benefit the community. The Western Cape government has also set strict targets for reducing organic waste to landfill, but these were disrupted by the pandemic and set back priorities. However, the value that can be extracted from this waste stream to create beneficial opportunities is clear, such as reduced impacts on landfills, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The biggest challenge now is ensuring that the municipalities are ready to take this stream out of the way stream and educating the public about these initiatives.
  • 00:20:00 The speaker discusses the importance of organizing and separating organic waste to improve waste management and increase the value of recyclable materials. They emphasize that not only municipalities but also businesses have a role to play in this process. The speaker talks about how networking opportunities can bring together like-minded individuals and organizations to work together towards waste management goals. They mention the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, a public-private partnership initiative that can help increase the success of waste management efforts. Additionally, the speaker discusses the opportunities and challenges in extracting fat oils and greases from drains, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the opportunities presented by organic waste in the Western Cape and Bellville. It is noted that organic waste is currently being extracted and converted into biofuels and some of this is being exported to the Netherlands. The speaker emphasizes the importance of composting as a waste management option, cautioning that if not done correctly, it can result in nuisances. The speaker highlights the potential of organic waste to contribute to a circular economy that prioritizes waste prevention, resource efficiency, human well-being, and ecosystem resilience. The speaker stresses the creative and collaborative approach needed to explore and implement waste management solutions, particularly within urban settings, where green spaces and sustainable practices can contribute to building resilient and livable communities.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, we discuss employment opportunities in the waste management industry in the Western Cape, particularly in the context of the Bellville region. Key themes include the importance of cooperating with municipalities, developing sustainable waste management programs, and utilizing data to inform decision-making. The speakers emphasize the potential for these initiatives to improve both the environmental and economic well-being of the region.
  • 00:35:00 The circularity is at a low 3.7%, indicating that much more needs to be done to manage waste sustainably. The project that Candice is involved in is aimed at collaboration between various stakeholders, including government, private sector, individuals, households, the general public, and businesses to tackle this issue. Candice explains how the project initiative they are involved in has been successful in increasing circularity in France. Additionally, the the dicussion highlights other initiatives that were recently conducted by the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, including zero waste concepts with informal traders, waste management plans with waste collectors, and a collaboration with a social organization that helps homeless individuals and communities to go green. Candice concludes that everyone has a role to play in waste management and encourages businesses to provide help in creating a circular economy.

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