Govt should prioritise waste management

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pretoria - There is a need for government departments to work together to ensure an effective recycling economy that is buoyed by the thriving markets for recyclable waste, Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said on Monday.

"It is important to continue to engage the private sector and create partnerships to deal with recycling," she said at a waste management conference in East London, Eastern Cape.

She said according to the packaging sector, South Africans consumed over 3 629 million tons of packaging (metal, paper, glass and plastic) in 2008. Included in that is paper which is found in the waste stream. Examples of this include newspapers, magazines and mail.

In that year, about 1 595 million tons of pre- and post-consumer waste was collected for recycling, a rate of 43.9%.

Although not all packaging and paper could be recycled, this area remained key for opportunities of recycling where municipalities could participate, Mabudafhasi said.

There was a need to have better systems of collection, which incorporate separation of waste at source, in order to get clean material and better quality jobs than the current practice of waste picking at landfill sites.

"The issue of diverting waste from going to landfills is one of the three key priority areas outlined in Outcome 10 of the government service delivery agreement, upon which we are supposed to deliver as a sector," said Mabudafhasi.

She urged all three spheres of government to engage and ensure that they deliver on the targets set in this agreement and monitor progress.

The department had set aside some funds to assist municipalities to license their own collection sites, working with provincial counterparts.

This project targets a few municipalities in each province but does not stop municipalities who have capacity and the means to apply for licences. Where applicable, some of the sites may be licensed for closure and rehabilitation.

Mabudafhasi highlighted enforcement as a big challenge in the country, despite good legislation in place.

In order to ensure the successful implementation of the National Waste Management Strategy, it was imperative that government departments work closely together. -

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