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What is the solution to South Africa's waste management problems?

There are multiple factors plaguing South Africa's waste management system at the moment, especially with environmentalists halting the traditional waste processing measures within the country. Limited resources and the increase in population are certainly not helping the cause either. In light of the current situation, let's discuss the scenario further and take a look at the possible solutions.

The current scenario

In spite of South Africa’s waste legislation being in conformation to global standards, the nation is lacking in both supervision and implementation of effective modern waste management. The government itself is aware and admits that the service and sustainable methods need immediate work.

The impact of untreated waste

If allowed to build up, Mema.pdf waste can pose a serious threat to both the environment and human health. An open dumpsite can lead to air pollution, water pollution and even chemical contamination. Factory waste is usually the most dangerous kind and has had devastating effects on not only the environment, but on resident health directly in the past. Allergies, diseases, gastrointestinal issues and even psychological disorders on coming in direct contact with waste are not uncommon. Polluted water and soil may turn a fertile piece of land barren or the produce harvested from the land could turn out to be health hazards themselves. In fact, any farm animal which feeds near the contaminated dumpsites will become infected and will pass on the toxic metals and other contaminants to the human body on being consumed.

The Swedish Recycling Revolution

As the world has learned from The Swedish Recycling Revolution, it is not impossible to solve the growing waste management problems with the help of modern technology. Right now, nearly all waste in Sweden is incinerated, with over half of that actually being used as an inexpensive form of fuel to produce energy. While South Africa is trying to figure out how to get rid of the waste they have, Sweden is actually importing waste from foreign countries to generate energy and make profits. Less than one percent of all waste in Sweden ends up as landfill and that’s quite an achievement. An acute awareness of the environmental impacts of untreated waste, landfill and decades of research in the field of recycling has led Sweden to become both a pioneer and the leader in waste management globally.

South Africa needs to work with the Swedish and bring in some of the advanced recycling technology like Thermo-Fusion that they are using to treat waste so successfully. The waste management divisions then need to adopt an all-round strategy for laying out the plans for an infrastructure and service delivery, built around the sustainable methods of waste disposal. It should become mandatory for all government and private projects to devise green plans for recycling waste, even before any work begins. The good news is that although a lot of work still needs to be done, not everything will need to be built from scratch because South Africa already has a few good systems in place.

2 Mar 2017 15:22