As Cape Town’s landfill spaces become increasingly full, both the city and local residents are helping to encourage cleaner, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly ways of dealing with our waste.
The City’s Solid Waste Management Department is responsible for waste collection and waste disposal in Cape Town municipal areas. “Our goal is to integrate waste management services and to minimize the effects of waste on human and environmental health,” says Councillor, Shehaam Sims.
With this in mind, the Kraaifontain Waste Management Facility was commissioned in 2010. It is the first integrated waste facility in South Africa that is able to manage up to 1000 tons of waste per day. This waste facility includes space for garden refuse, chipping deposits, a domestic recycling centre and a public drop-off area. The Kraaifontein facility therefore not only creates a larger space to accommodate waste but also makes it easier and more convenient for citizens to recycle.
All 25 city deposit points now have containers where the public are able to physically separate their rubbish into different sorts of recyclables. They are clearly marked with labels: glass, plastic, bottles, hazard waste (paint tins, etc) and garden chippings.
Cape Town Waste Management also runs recycling programs with the intention of educating children and adults alike about the importance of recycling. For younger Capetonians, many of the programmes revolve around Zibi, “the rubbish eating ostrich”, who is used to help fight the temptation to litter, and to promote recycling in the city. Zibi is designed to appeal to all children regardless of their background, ethnicity or location.
On the other hand, many observers note that the ins and outs of recycling remain unknown to many, especially to those in less affluent areas. Furthermore, for isolated informal settlements, getting to recycling points is difficult and inconvenient.
In direct contrast, some of the city’s poorest citizens, like David Siphowe, are trying to make a living by separating recyclables from general rubbish in public bins, and then selling the recyclables (including cardboard and scrap metal) to manufacturers that reuse them to make new products.
Mrs Elliott, who resides in Gardens, Cape Town says that although she sometimes feels the urge to give money to people she sees rummaging through bins, she has come to realise that “they are doing more good by trying to help the environment and recycling (so-called waste) to earn some money.”