Waste disposal shortcuts add to environmental challenges

Mismanaged landfills and dumps present a number of risksUnlike many developed countries that operate within a regenerative system referred to as a circular economy, South Africa only recycles 10 percent of its waste. Due to several factors, our country still employs a predominantly linear or ‘take-make-dispose’ approach. Considering that most waste is destined for landfills, the promotion of responsible disposal practices remains crucial for environmental sustainability.

According to Averda, a waste management provider in South Africa, under pricing in the industry is a significant barrier to the development of green waste management solutions. This is compounded by a high number of unlicensed or non-compliant waste handlers who undercut prices by skirting legislative requirements.

‘Reputable waste management companies often guide their clients on ways to reduce waste. We develop strategies to divert significant portions of waste away from landfills. This includes a rebate system to incentivise recycling. When disposal is necessary, reputable providers can be trusted to ensure this is managed responsibly,’ says Reg Gerber, the national landfill manager at Averda South Africa.

When consumers employ unlicensed or non-compliant providers, they have no control over where waste ends up.

Mismanaged landfills and dumps present a number of risks including air pollution and groundwater contamination. When rain falls on landfill sites, the organic and inorganic constituents are dissolved, forming a leachate, which can contain toxic metals such as ammonia, organic compounds and pathogens. Any leakage can result in groundwater contamination.

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