Working towards a clean SA

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Government is set to launch a ground-breaking initiative that seeks to mobilize all South Africans to become more environmentally conscious.

Dubbed the Good Green Deeds Campaign, it hopes to galvanize individuals in the private sector, labour, NGO’s, interfaith formations and society at large to clean South Africa.

The campaign, which will be led by the Department of Environmental Affairs, will also focus on promoting sustainable waste management practices such as recycling.

“The Department of Environmental Affairs working in collaboration with other government departments hopes that this campaign will be the largest and most impactful public environmental awareness campaign the country has seen,” the department said on Thursday.

The Constitution guarantees the right of all South Africans to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being.

Littering, illegal dumping, pollution and other harmful activities have ill effects on the natural environment as well as the quality of life and health of communities. 

According to the South Africa state of waste report of 2018 - South Africa generated 4.2 million tonnes of general waste. It is estimated that 38.6% of general waste was recycled during this period.

It is estimated that 137 490 tonnes was of general waste, mainly glass (5%), paper (3%), plastic and metals (1%) was imported, while an estimated 258 557 tonnes of general waste, mainly paper (6%), plastics (3%) and metals (2%) was exported.

Less than 5% of people in the South Africa separate their waste at household level. This is despite the fact that recycling, re-use, and composting can create a value chain which can have additional job opportunities which are much needed while is also saves an average 60% of energy used to make them.

After South Africa introduced a levy system on plastic carry - bags in 2002, more and more people buy durable bags for reuse when doing shopping. The program has raised millions of rands in revenue.

However still over 1 million tonnes of plastic are thrown away in South Africa each year.

Since plastic is not biodegradable - light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that pollute the environment and can take thousands of years decompose.

Litter is also costing the economy as municipalities spend a lot of money on cleaning-up illegal dumping areas. Property prices are also lowered by litter and illegal dumping in the area while tourism is affected as an area becomes unsightly and smelly, few tourists would visit the area.

The national campaign will officially be launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sisa Dukashe stadium, Mdantsane, in East London on Friday.

Similar launch activities are planned for the different provinces.