You are on page 1of 19

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008


Engledow, S (BSocSci, BA Hons, MA)
Jeffares and Green (Pty) Ltd, 14 Central Square, Pinelands, 7405;
Tel: (021) 532 0940; Fax: (021) 532 0950; cell: 074 243 8234,

Inputs are ‘…all the materials and commodities needed to sustain the city’s inhabitants at
home, at work and at play… Over a period of time these requirements include even the
construction materials needed to build and rebuild the city itself. The metabolic cycle is not
complete until these wastes and residues of daily life have been removed and disposed of
with a minimum of nuisance and hazard. As man has come to appreciate that the earth is a
closed ecological system, casual methods that once appeared satisfactory for the disposal
of wastes no longer seem acceptable. He has the daily evidence of his eyes and nose to tell
him that his planet cannot assimilate without limit the untreated wastes of his civilisation’
(Wolman, 1966:167).


The City of Cape Town has a fairly broad and effective waste management service covering 96%
of all households and businesses, and over the last decade has embarked on many initiatives to
reduce, recover and recycle waste. Waste generation trends of the city are comparable with both
economically developed and economically developing countries, which poses an interesting
position to be in as very different challenges emerge. In economically developed countries large
amounts of packaging wastes are generated whilst in economically developing countries large
amounts of organic wastes are generated. Understanding the nature of the waste challenges
faced by the City is an important point of departure.

The term solid waste is a general term used when referring to general household waste,
commercial and industrial waste. It also includes low level hazardous and general waste like
electronic waste including computers, printers, fridges, stoves, and other electronic appliances.

Residential household waste is included within municipal solid waste and many people refer to it
as rubbish, refuse or garbage. Municipal solid waste management is an essential public health
service which is a function of the local municipality. The function traditionally includes collection
and disposal of wastes generated within the urban environment. Municipal solid waste can be
difficult to manage due to its diverse composition. Residential waste includes a range of materials
collected (glass, paper, plastics and organics); and has seasonal variations or fluctuations in
waste quantities and type .

Definitions of waste abound in the plethora of South African legislation which includes aspects of
waste management in some form or another. Although, definitions contained within the
Environment Conservation Act, Act 73 of 1989 and the National Water Act, 36 of 1998 still have
relevance, the most recent definition offered here is contained within the National Environmental
Management: Waste Management Bill, 2007 (soon to be promulgated):

‘waste’ …any substance, whether or not that substance can be reduced, re-used, recycled
and recovered—
(a) that is surplus, unwanted, rejected, discarded, abandoned or disposed of;

1 City of Cape Town: Strategic Information, Strategic Development Information and the GIS Department
2 Before computers electronic waste was referred to as white goods as they mostly included old fridges, stoves etc
3 White et al, 1995
4 DEAT, 2007

© Jeffares & Green 1

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

(b) where the generator has no further use of for the purposes of production, reprocessing or
(c) that must be treated or disposed of; or
(d) that is identified as a waste by the Minister, but—
(i) a by-product is not considered waste; and
(ii) any portion of waste, once re-used, recycled and recovered, ceases to be waste;

For the purpose of this paper, the term solid waste will be used when referring to waste
management in the City of Cape Town, except when referring to hazardous waste. Hazardous
waste generally requires different storage, collection and disposal practices and therefore the
intention is to keep general and hazardous waste separate.

In South Africa waste is usually categorised to ensure appropriate treatment and disposal.
Domestic household waste is placed within the same class as commercial and some industrial
waste; whilst hazardous waste is separated and collected and managed differently. Depending on
the hazardous characteristics of the waste, various treatment methods are necessary and need to
be applied before disposal. Hazardous materials can only be disposed of at licensed hazardous
waste disposal sites.

Figure 1: General waste disposal at a

landfill in Cape Town


The institutional and infrastructural capacity for the City of Cape Town to manage solid waste is
significantly better than most developing countries elsewhere, however constraints are evident in
terms of:
 ongoing challenges of integration with six formerly independent and self administered
 the legacy of Apartheid and unequal service distribution;
 decreasing landfill availability and rapid urbanization and
 associated increasing volumes of waste

Solid waste generation has in the past 10 years increased dramatically. Figure 2 provides a
graphic illustration of the amount of waste disposed of at the City’s Landfill sites from 1991-
2006/2007, with projections calculated for 2007-2009. The data noted in the years from 1991-
1997 are relatively stable, which could in part be due to poor data capturing of waste disposed of
at landfill.

The figures do not take into account the private waste disposal facility, i.e. the Vissershok Waste
Management Facility; recycling or waste minimisation initiatives, therefore the actual waste

5 Engledow, 2005
© Jeffares & Green 2
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

generated could be higher. The projected figures for 2007/2008 & 2008/2009 financial years
have been calculated based on an 8% increase which is the figure used for planning purposes
within the City’s Solid Waste Management Department.

The rapid increase in waste generation could be attributed to factors including:

o Urbanisation and population increase
o Increase in production and consumption (associated with an increase in affluence)
o Formalised and equitable services
o More accurate record keeping

Annual Tonnages disposed of at the CoCT Landfill Sites



Annual Tonnage (x1000)



500.00 figures:
8% pa
0.00 increase
92 2

93 3

94 4

95 5

96 6

97 7

98 8

99 9
00 00

01 1

02 2

03 3

04 4

05 5

06 6

07 7

08 8

19 199

19 199

19 199

19 199

19 199

19 199

19 199

19 199

20 200

20 200

20 200

20 200

20 200

20 200

20 200

20 200

2 0 /2 0




Figure 2: Total waste disposed per annum in Cape Town

Urbanization and population increase

The City of Cape Town is predominantly an urban area and in 2007 the population was projected
to be approximately 3 497 097 people using a projected increase of 1.61% per annum in 2006.
The growth rate includes natural increase of 0.86% and a migration rate of 0.75% per annum.
The 1996 Census recorded the population to be 2 682 866 and in 2001 the recorded number was
2 893 251. The population in Cape Town has thus increased by 26% since the 1996 Census. The
increase in waste generation for the same time period is 106% . The increase in the waste
generation therefore cannot solely be attributed to population increase; but could also be
attributed to improvement in economic conditions and affluence.

Increase in production and consumption

International waste management literature has confirmed the relationship between economic
affluence and increasing waste generation, as well as the change in the composition of waste

6 Novella, P. 2008
8 Compiled from Novella, 2008; Mega-tech, 2004; Engledow, 2005

© Jeffares & Green 3

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

Affluence vs Waste Generation (per capita)

90000 800

80000 700

Waste Generation (kilograms)

GDP (US Dollars)



10000 100

0 0
Czech Republic
Slovak Republic

United Kingdom
South Africa



OECD total


New Zealand












United States

GDP Waste Generation

Figure 3: GDP Per Capita (US Dollars)

Figure 3 illustrates the relationship between GDP per capita expressed in US Dollars and per
capita waste generation figures expressed in kilograms. It is evident to see that as per capita
GDP increases, there is generally an upward trend in the amount of waste generated. In South
Africa’s case, there is an interesting picture in that the graph illustrates high waste generation
rates per capita, but a low GDP per capita. This illustrates well the diversity within the country as
a whole in that there are large numbers of poor people and a smaller percentage of wealthy
people. However it is the more wealthy that tend to generate large volumes of waste.

The graph was compiled from information obtained from the OECD (2008). The information has
been gathered for 2005 and 2006 and represents information that may not be entirely consistent.
This is especially relevant in terms of waste generation data as various waste streams are
included or not included in the data. Therefore it is used here to present an indication of the
trends and as a means of comparison.

An interesting observation can be seen in the figures calculated for the amount of waste being
generated per person per day in the City of Cape Town from 1997-2007 in Table 1.
Table 1: Average waste generation per person per day
1997 1.39
2001 1.55
2004 1.96
2007 2.23

These figures are based on the total waste stream averaged for the whole population and based
on the population statistics from Census 1996, 2001 and estimated projected figures for 2007. It

9OECD, 2008
10Figures calculated using information from Engledow & Eichstadt, 2005; Mega-tech, 2004; Strategic Information,
Strategic Development Information and GIS. These figures are estimates and should not be taken as completely
accurate but rather an indication – refer to explanation in the text.
© Jeffares & Green 4
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

provides a platform on which to assess the increasing generation of waste. Bearing in mind that
these figures are averaged over the population, it is important to remember that there are
differences in the amount of waste generated per socio-economic group. Estimations from the
City’s IWMP study suggests that low income households generate between 0.16-0.50 kilograms
per person per day while the middle to high income generate from 1.50-2 kilograms per person
per day.

There are two opposing arguments which can be argued in terms of using per person generation
rates. The first argument is that using these rates is dangerous and inaccurate. The danger with
using figures such as a ‘per person’ average rate of generation is that it seems to over simplify
the generation rates and therefore they are not accurate for the following reasons:
(a) The way that the rates are calculated is often not clear and it is often uncertain whether
the rates are based on the total waste stream which includes industrial and commercial
(b) The rates are generally shown as an average per person;
(c) There are no recent studies to confirm or refute the calculations

In contrast to this it could be argued that the ‘per person’ generation rate can provide an
indication as to the generation trend and should therefore be viewed as an indicative tool and
therefore need not necessarily be completely accurate. Individuals, whilst they are not directly
generating industrial or commercial waste, are active in the market place in terms of purchasing
goods and services and other tangible products manufactured by the commercial and industrial
sectors and therefore indirectly contribute to the amount of waste generated.

Table 2 is an attempt to reflect a projection calculated for 2008. The figures provide a
categorization of the amount of waste generated per person and per income group, based on
information in the IWMP (2004). The calculations have been based on a conservative increase of
5% and the figures only take into account the domestic waste stream and garden waste.
Information such as this is very useful to determine where waste minimization initiatives need to
be concentrated in terms of the socio-economic group.
Table 2: Waste generation per person per day (2008)
Income Kg/c/day Kilogram per person per day
Group Household Garden Total
Figures have been modified from original
High 2.1 0.35 2.45
CoCT IWMP to take into account the
Middle 1.2 0.35 1.55 increase in generation - approximately 5%
Low 0.5 0 0.5

The situation in South Africa has shifted in the last few years in terms of economic growth and the
emergence of a distinctive ‘African’ middle class. The term used to describe this emergent
affluent African middle class is ‘Black Diamonds’ . This reference is an important one in that the
middle class in South Africa as a whole is growing. The article makes a comparison between the
United States of America and the United Kingdom where the middle class accounts for about
50% of the population; whilst in South Africa the middle class is only about 20% of the population
but growing. If this is put into the context specifically for Cape Town it can be said that the
expanding emerging middle class (irrespective whether racially defined) could be interpreted as
an expanding waste problem and increasing packaging type wastes entering the waste stream.

The rapid increase in waste over the last ten years can be explained in part by the increase in
affluence and the emergent middle class.

11 Mega-tech, 2004
12 Figures calculated CoCT IWMP; J&G; CoCT Discussions. These figures are estimates and should not be taken as
completely accurate but rather an indication – refer to explanation in the text.
13 Naidoo, S. 2007

© Jeffares & Green 5

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

Cape Town has also seen a dramatic increase in demolition and construction activities. This
sector has reportedly grown for the entire Western Cape Province by 6.6% on average over the
last five years (1999 – 2003) as compared to the National average of 4% per annum . The
construction of new residential areas, commercial and retail sectors usually includes demolition
activities generating building rubble which again increases the waste volumes.

A somewhat dated report that still holds relevance is ‘Cape Town’s economy: current trends and
future prospects 2001’ which describes Cape Town’s economy in real terms. Gross Geographic
Product (GGP) is growing at a faster rate than the national average, i.e. 2.5% as compared to the
national average of 2.1% , which further demonstrates the hypothesis of increased production
and consumption as an additional factor in increasing waste generation.

The Western Cape Provincial Economic Review and Outlook (2005) presents data for the entire
Western Cape Province. Real GDPR over the period of 1999 – 2003 showed an average 3.9%
growth as opposed to the National average of 3.1% .

Formalised and Equitable service levels

The City is not only faced with increasing waste volumes from increased consumption and
population growth factors, but also needs to manage past inequalities of service. Prior to 1994
the levels of the waste management service offered, was dependent on area. Informal areas
were not serviced, whilst middle to upper income areas were well serviced including a separate
green waste collection service .

A more standardized level of service has been implemented across the City over the last few
years which offers most of the population in Cape Town a refuse removal service in the form of
containerized 240l bins to bagged and skip container services. The implementation of the more
formalized services has led to more appropriate waste management services and also the more
regular removal of refuse. This may lead to the impression that more waste is being generated,
whereas more waste is now actually being collected that was not previously collected and is
therefore now being accounted for.

Accurate record keeping

As technology improves more accurate record keeping can be conducted and kept up to date.
Weighbridges at Landfill sites have only been installed at landfill sites within the last 10-15 years.
Previously, estimations based on the load capacity of the truck were used. This still occurs at
some of the landfill and drop off sites especially for green waste and builders’ rubble. This leads
to inaccurate information being recorded due to over or under estimations being made.

Inaccurate information regarding waste generated within the City presents a challenge in terms of
future planning. In terms of the City’s Integrated Waste Management Plan (IWMP), a waste
information system would assist in standardizing a method of accurate record keeping in terms of
the amount of waste generated, treated and disposed. The waste information system would
require municipalities to ensure that accurate information is captured and then fed into the
national waste information system.

The waste information system would assist the City in terms of future planning as well as National
statistics regarding waste generation and management.

14 Western Cape Provincial Government, 2005

15 City of Cape Town, 2001
16 Western Cape Provincial Government, 2005
17 Engledow, 2005

© Jeffares & Green 6

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008


Due to the decreasing airspace available the City of Cape Town has made an attempt for garden
waste to be kept separate from the general waste stream in order to remove this waste type from
the landfill. Drop off facilities have been established around the City as well as at all of the
operating landfill sites. The greens are then chipped and used as a raw material in composting.
Figure 3 presents a green waste stockpile at the City owned Kommetjie Drop off facility where the
community is encouraged to drop off green waste.

Figure 3: Chipping of garden waste at a

City’s Drop off site for mulch and

For the same reason the City is making an attempt to keep builders’ rubble off landfill sites. In the
past landfill sites have used builders’ rubble either as cover material or for on site road
maintenance. In a study conducted by the City of Cape Town in 2005 it was estimated that
builders’ rubble accounted for about 15% of the total amount of solid waste. Builders’ rubble
consists of materials from demolished buildings and civil infrastructure including rocks and soil
arising from earthworks, civil works and general foundations. Ingerop Africa (2005) reported that
about 900 000 tons of builders rubble is generated per annum of which 75% is being recycled.
Approximately 530 000 tons was privately recycled and 130 000 tons recycled at municipal
facilities of Coastal Park and Gordon’s Bay. This is a very impressive rate of recycling and shows
the value of builders’ rubble. The illegal dumping of builders rubble is ongoing, which begs the
question regarding City’s enforcement capacity. Fines can be issued if you are caught or
reported to have dumped waste illegally. An increase in awareness of these fines as well as the
increased awareness for the public to report offenders is required. The disposal of builders
rubble at the City’s sites (landfill and drop off facilities) is referred to as ‘free waste’ meaning that
there are no charges involved.

The City is in the process of drafting a new IWM By-law which would require waste service
contractors to register with the City and require individuals to only use registered contractors.
This is one attempt to regulate the industry and limit the amount of illegal dumping.

Figure 4: Illegally dumped builders rubble

18 Ingerop Africa, 2005

© Jeffares & Green 7
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

Electronic waste or ‘e-Waste’ is also on the increase as electronic equipment becomes obsolete
and is replaced by newer models. e-Waste includes all computer hardware, cellular phones as
well as household appliances. The Electronic Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) has
been formed in an attempt to increase awareness of e-waste and the potential toxicity of the
substances contained within electronic equipment. Heavy metals contained within e-Waste
include lead, mercury and cadmium, and therefore management of this waste stream is
imperative. In more developed countries this problem has reached crisis levels with e-Waste
being exported to less developed countries for processing (see figure 5a).

(a) (b)

Figure 5: (a) E-waste recycling in China ; (b) E-
Waste at a Cape Town Drop off facility

In Cape Town the problem of e-Waste has become more of a problem on landfill sites over the
last couple of years. Previously people would store obsolete electronic equipment in basements
(i.e. government departments, commercial businesses) or within their homes because they were
unsure of where to take these items. Stored items are now making there way to landfill sites.
Private industry and NGO’s have led the way in terms of implementing initiatives in order to re-
use and recycle old electronic equipment and to raise awareness of the importance of managing
e-Waste correctly .

Hazardous waste is collected, treated and managed separately to general solid waste.
Hazardous waste is defined in the Minimum Requirements as:

"an inorganic or organic element or compound that, because of its toxicological,

physical, chemical or persistency properties*, may exercise detrimental acute or
chronic impacts on human health and the environment. It can be generated from a
wide range of commercial, industrial, agricultural and domestic activities and may
take the form of liquid, sludge or solid. These characteristics contribute not only to
degree of hazard, but are also of great importance in the ultimate choice of a safe
and environmentally acceptable method of disposal."

19 University of Michigan:

20 eWASA; Footprints Environmental Center in Wynberg, Cape Town
21 DWAF, 1998
22 DWAF, 1998:2-4

© Jeffares & Green 8

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

Hazardous waste is determined using a hazard rating system and the South African Bureau of
Standards classification of hazardous waste for transportation classification 1-9 (SANS 10228).
The hazard rating system classifies waste according to extreme risk (hazard rating 1) to low risk
(hazard rating 4). The hazard rating of a waste will determine what type of landfill site that waste
can be disposed at. Hazard ratings 1-4 can be disposed of at a H:H landfill site; whilst hazard
rating 3 and 4 can only be disposed of at a landfill site licensed as H:h .

There are many industries that generate hazardous waste during their manufacturing processes
or after use, e.g. chemical and paint manufacturing plants; agricultural and forestry industries etc.

Medical and infectious waste is included within hazardous waste and classified as hazard rating 1
which is extremely hazardous. This type of waste must be incinerated or alternatively must be
sterilised or treated using nationally approved technologies (e.g. autoclaving or electro-thermal
deactivation) prior to being landfilled at a licensed hazardous (H:H / H:h) landfill site. All
anatomical waste (body parts) must be incinerated. Medical and infectious waste generally
originates from hospitals and clinics, but also from biological research facilities as well as home
treatment. The collection, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste must be in accordance with
legislation, i.e. Western Cape Health Care Risk Management Act, 2007 and the South African
National Standards Authority (SANS), to name only two as to discuss all the applicable legislation
will be separate paper.


The predominant method currently used within the City of Cape Town to manage solid waste is
landfill disposal. There are and have been initiatives to compost solid waste as well as minimize
the amount of solid waste that requires landfill disposal by means of a material recovery facility.

The siting and management of landfill sites is important in order to minimize the impacts on the
surrounding environment in the form of potential air, soil and water contamination. Landfill sites
situated on the Cape Flats (e.g. Bellville and Coastal Park) are situated directly above or within
the recharge zones of the Cape Flats Aquifer system . Sites constructed pre-1990 were not
designed using engineered liners or leachate detection layers, but were rather quite rudimentary
in design. Therefore the possibility of historical landfill sites polluting groundwater resources and
causing soil contamination are real concerns. Parsons (2002) presents evidence that historical
waste cells of the Bellville South site (in operation since the 1960’s) has impacted on the Cape
Flats Aquifer system. Newer ‘cells’ developed at Bellville South have been designed using
engineered linings and leachate detection systems to mitigate potential groundwater pollution.
This is also accompanied by groundwater monitoring procedures to assess whether these
systems are still functional.

The remaining municipal operated landfill sites operating within the Cape Town area are Bellville
South Landfill site (classified as a G:L:B+); Coastal Park landfill site (classified as a G:L:B+) and
Vissershok landfill site (classified as H:h). The Vissershok Waste Management Facility is a H:H
landfill which is privately owned and managed by a joint venture between EnviroServ and
Wasteman. All of the remaining landfill site cells are constructed to engineered specifications
including landfill liners and leachate detection systems.

These facilities are the only remaining sites left to serve the City of Cape Town for the next 10-15
years. A regional landfill site has been planned and is awaiting the outcome of an appeal lodged
against the Environmental Authorisation before the site can be constructed. The regional site will
be located in close proximity to Atlantis (about 50km outside of the City Center) and will serve the
City and potentially outlying areas, for example Stellenbosch.

23 The classification of landfill sites will be discussed later in the document

24 Mega-tech, 2004
© Jeffares & Green 9
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

In order for waste to be transported over such great distances, a number of Refuse Transfer
Stations (RTS) need to be constructed. The Tygerberg Waste Management Facility and the
Oostenberg RTS have been through an Environmental Impact Assessment Process and received
the necessary Environmental Authorisation from the Department of Environmental Affairs and
Development Planning (DEA&DP). A further RTS is planned for the Helderberg area and is
currently going through the EIA process. All of the RTS proposed have been designed to include
a ‘clean’ MRF to sort commingled recyclables in a bid to reduce the amount of waste requiring
landfill disposal.

Municipal Landfill Closure
Sites Classification Permit Status Date Soil Type
Vissershok H:h Permitted (1998) 2020 Clayey
Coastal Park G:L:B+ Permitted (2000) 2022 Sandy
Bellville G:L:B+ Permitted (2003) 2013 Sandy
Privately operated Landfill Site

Vissershok Waste
Management Facility
3 25
H:H Permitted (1997) 2013 Clayey
H:h Landfills that can accept Moderate (3) to Low Hazard (4) (as defined by the Minimum
Requirements) and General Waste
GLB+ A Large General Waste landfill which is likely to produce significant amounts of leachate
H:H Can accept all hazardous waste (hazard ratings 1-4)
Table 2: Remaining landfill sites in Cape Town


Waste minimization activities include reducing the amount of waste generated, but also reducing
the amount of waste that requires landfill disposal. A lot of emphasis is placed on waste
minimization activities for the latter, especially in terms of recycling initiatives.

There are a number of recycling initiatives operating within Cape Town. Operators include Non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, Churches, private companies, government
initiatives (drop off facilities) and informal collectors. Recycling initiatives are conducted as a
viable business; to raise money in fundraising attempts at schools and charities; and to raise
environmental awareness.

Informal salvaging is a means by which homeless or formally unemployed people to sustain a

living. This activity includes picking from residential, street or business bins and also directly from
landfill sites. Recovered recyclables collected via this complex web of formal to informal collectors
take the recyclables either directly or through a ‘middle-man’ to the recycling companies
(processing for remanufacture). The recovered recyclables are either then re-used or sold to buy
back centers for market related prices per kilogram.

The current rate of recycling at the City of Cape Town’s landfill sites by waste salvagers is
between 0.5-0.7% . This recovery rate is very low and is partly due to the contamination of
recyclables and the difficulty in recovering the recyclables. Salvaging directly from a landfill site is

25 There is potential for site expansion, if this is achieved then the lifespan can be extended to about 2020.
26 Resource Management Services, 2005-2007. External Audits of the City of Cape Town Waste disposal facilities
© Jeffares & Green 10
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

dangerous work as the salvagers work closely to the working face . It is unhygienic to dig
through the mix of wastes that are disposed. Household waste generally contains wet waste in
the form of food wastes, and recyclable packaging type wastes. However, household hazardous
waste is sometimes still found within the general waste stream, i.e. old car oil, fluorescent tubes,
old paint and resin from household maintenance as well as old medicines. The City has
attempted to formalize these salvaging activities by setting up contracts with the salvagers
working on the landfill sites. The formalisation of the activities has improved worker health and
safety but the working conditions are still dangerous. In general, however, salvagers do not wear
the personal protective equipment that is issued by the contracted company.

Figure 6 a-b: Waste salvagers on a
waste disposal site (extreme


Waste salvagers and waste pickers not situated on the landfill sites usually pick recyclables from
bins on collection days in residential areas or bins located outside businesses or other sources.
Waste salvagers are considered a nuisance and there is a perceived association with instances
of increased crime and an increase in litter in the area. There is no detailed information to confirm
or refute this statement.

Many salvagers within Cape Town use a ‘trolley’ from one of the big supermarket chains to
transport their recyclables to buy back centers or other recycling companies. This is evident in
many areas around Cape Town and salvagers are often referred to as ‘trolley people’ .

27 Working face: active working area of a landfill site where the trucks are disposing waste and the landfill compactors
are compact the waste.
28 Engledow, 2005; Personal observation

© Jeffares & Green 11

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

Figure 7: Informal
salvagers’ often referred
to as ‘trolley’ people

Recycling has been recognized at both the national and local level of government as an important
strategy to divert valuable resources sent to landfill as waste. At the national level recycling is
highlighted within the National Waste Minimisation Strategy, the White Paper on Integrated
Pollution and Waste Management for South Africa and the proposed National Waste
Management Bill. In Cape Town it has also been recognised as an important method to divert
waste. This is evident from the many recycling initiatives previously implemented and the
inclusion of recycling within the IWMP .


There are numerous challenges in terms of sustainable waste management in Cape Town
 Legislation & other legal barriers which can delay proactive alternative solutions e.g. the
necessary EIA, Permitting procedures and land use planning issues
 Funding & capital expenditure – for Private and Public sectors
 Municipal Finance Management Act & other Procurement processes
 Customers are generally driven by the price of the service and not necessarily interested
in alternative solutions (especially relevant for the private industry)
 Time constraints as the roads are becoming more congested which leads to transport
 Lack of skilled people in the industry – private, public (including regulating authorities)
 Lack of inter-departmental and inter-governmental communication
 Creating markets for recyclables to ensure a sustainable recycling economy
 Participation – public and private – what are the levers or incentives to change behaviour
 Gaps in information (information from private & public sector)

Legislation & other legal barriers

In terms of legislation, there is a plethora of legislation pertaining to various aspects of waste
management from National to Local Government level. This not only makes waste management
somewhat confusing as to which Acts and By-laws are applicable but enforcement is also an
issue. There is a lack of capacity within all the tiers of government and which impedes
enforcement of legislation is also affected. The National Environmental Management: Waste
Management Bill is soon to be promulgated which will form the overarching piece of waste
legislation for the country, which is hoped to bridge the gaps of the array of legislation.

The EIA regulations are also triggered by almost all waste management activities including small
Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) for the sorting of recyclables. The purpose of the regulations

29 Mega-tech, 2004
© Jeffares & Green 12
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

are to protect the environment and therefore necessary, however often lead to lengthy delays at
the applicants cost. In terms of the establishment of landfill sites where environmental, social and
economic impacts may well be high; the EIA process is essential. It is the smaller waste
management companies which suffer and are deterred from establishing these low impact
facilities. The smaller activities include composting and small MRF’s, which are waste
minimisation initiatives desperately required in the City, yet are hindered by bureaucracy. This is
not to say that the establishment of these sorts of facilities should not go through any
environmental assessment process; however the process applied should be appropriate for the
type of activity being applied for.

Another aspect of legislation which seems to complicate the establishment of waste management
facilities is the outdated Offensive Trade Regulations (1944) . Waste management facilities
generally need to be established in areas zoned for offensive trade, i.e. rezoning applications or
departure use applications are necessary despite the fact that the area may be zoned within an
industrial area. Application for rezoning of a property can only be done once a decision on the
EIA process has been granted. The EIA process can take anything from 6 months to 3 years and
then application for rezoning a further 1-2 years. The time duration is often further affected if there
are appeals.

The operating budget of the City of Cape Town is derived from tariffs and the capital budget
derived from a number of different funding mechanisms including Provincial and National
Government. The funding for both budgets is restricted whilst the cost of waste management
activities is increasing due to the rapidly increasing volumes of waste. Finances available are not
increasing in proportion to the rate at which waste is being generated.

Municipal Finance Management Act & Municipal Systems Act

The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) details how municipality’s are required to
manage their finances as is captured in the very name of the act, whilst the Municipal Systems
Act (MSA) governs the way municipality’s must function in terms of service delivery and
standards of service. In certain instances, the procedures required by the respective acts actually
restrict the ability of municipalities to operate optimally in the waste sector.

Two examples to illustrate this point:

a) In terms of MFMA, contracts awarded to private contractors are limited to a three year
period. Many contractors argue that this time period is too short to invest in capital for
the contract period and therefore invest in the minimum equipment necessary. This
unfortunately may lead to substandard service at the expense of surrounding
communities or the environment.
b) In terms of the MSA, outsourcing of management functions in terms of waste
management facilities is a lengthy process that is governed by Section 78. Municipalities
must first investigate the need to outsource the function, followed by an approval
process, procurement and tender process to award the function to a suitable contractor.
These processes can take months to years leading to lengthy delays in implementing
more efficient services, e.g. the outsourcing of the management function of waste
management facilities / services to private contractors.

While the MFMA & MSA have been drafted to protect municipalities, as well as private
contractors; the above two instances tend to have the opposite effect.

Price driven market

The waste industry is like any other market and is driven by price and profitability. This especially
applies to the private waste management industry. Customers are inclined to take the cheapest
option available which is not always the most sustainable, e.g. landfilling as opposed to
alternative treatment technologies. Waste management companies are starting to diversify and

30 Government Notice 614 of 1944

© Jeffares & Green 13
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

offer their clients a wider selection of treatment technologies. Until the legislative levers are in
place, many companies will not feel compelled to take the alternative and sometimes more
expensive option.

Every year the amount of traffic on the roads increases. This accounts for all vehicle types. More
waste is also being generated every year which requires additional long haul collection vehicles
on the roads and on the City’s landfill sites. Due to the number of landfill sites around the City
decreasing to only three, the turn around times of the trucks is now longer than before as further
transfer stations must still be constructed. This may in turn affect the public and private sector in
terms of lengthy delays and additional congestion of the City’s roads.

Skills shortage
There is a general lack of managerial and operational skills within the waste management
industry in both the private and public sector. This has serious implications when landfill sites are
not being operated by qualified people. Actual figures are not available at present in terms of the
number of vacant posts within the City’s Solid Waste Management Department.

A common constraint remains the lack of interdepartmental communication and co-operation;
however, this is not restricted to the management of waste. This aspect is clearly evident when
applying for the various applications in terms of authorisation for the establishment of waste
management facilities, e.g. EIA and landuse.

Markets for recyclables

Reducing the volume of waste disposed on landfill is one of the City’s key objectives for the
future. Reduction initiatives include waste minimisation and the recovery of recyclables. It is
important to ensure that there are markets established for recyclables in order to achieve the
objective. An unstable recyclable paper market in 2004 drove the price of paper so low that the
recovery rate dropped as a result . The glass, metals and plastics markets are good examples of
strong stable markets.

Implementation of new systems always presents challenges in terms of participation of various
stakeholders. It is often the participation rate that will determine the success or failure of a new

Participation in waste minimization and recycling initiatives is on a voluntary basis. It is important

to implement structures where there are levers or incentives to change behaviour. Behaviour
change is required from the individual, manufacturing sectors as well as government.

Gaps in information
There are many gaps in the information. The private waste industry is very competitive like any
other industry and generally does not provide consultants with any information. This unfortunately
portrays a skewed picture of the waste volumes being generated or where and how they are
treated. It is assumed that the waste volumes generated are actually in excess of what has been
presented due to the gap in data from the private sector.


Whilst there are constraints, there are also opportunities. These include:

31 Engledow, 2005
© Jeffares & Green 14
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

 Business re-engineering including the establishment of new business and changing the
business case from ‘business as usual’ to ‘business as unusual’ – Extended Producer
 New markets – promotion of alternative treatment methods to open up the recycling
 Decrease in reliance on raw materials if recycling initiatives are increased
 Increased public awareness as to their role in waste minimization and recycling
 Increased landfill airspace savings
 Implementing instruments
 Green Procurement Policies

Partnerships are essential for the success of waste reduction and recycling objectives. These
could involve public-private partnerships or business partnerships. It is also essential that the
different tiers of government form partnerships and embark on waste minimisation initiatives
together. This would enable programs to be rolled out from the national to the local levels. An
example of this can be seen with the initiative that PETCO have launched at the City of Cape
Town Drop off sites. PETCO have sponsored bags for the collection of PET, HDPE and LDPE
for recycling.

Figure 8: PETCO initiative in collaboration

with City of Cape Town Drop off sites

Business re-engineering
There are opportunities to move away from the conventional business models and to explore new
technologies and methodologies. This especially applies to the required move away from end of
pipe technologies such as landfilling.

Interdepartmental communication and co-operation should also be encouraged as the field of

waste crosses many boundaries, e.g. the waste water department in terms of sewage sludge; the
energy sector in terms of waste to energy projects; electricity regulators – as seen in the
implementation of energy saving light bulbs – Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) which contain
mercury; waste oil recovery and recycling.

Extended producer responsibility should also be considered under the banner of business re-
engineering, as many businesses do not take the externality of the by product (wastes) into
account when considering their financial costs and profitability. Take back systems or deposit
systems should be encouraged.

As environmental awareness becomes an area that bigger corporations are paying more
attention to, business re-engineering gains more momentum. International pressures as well as
local constraints with regard to landfill airspace, increasing cost of transport and the
environmental degradation in terms of traditional methods are demanding that corporations re-

© Jeffares & Green 15
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

think their traditional approach and report on their performance. Waste management and
specifically waste minimization and recycling initiatives are finally receiving the necessary
attention at the corporate level.

Even waste management companies are re-thinking their traditional end of pipe methodologies to
waste management and the service they provide to their clients. Waste management companies
in Cape Town are adopting and offering clients a broader range of alternatives, including on-site
sorting and recycling; and composting.

The marketing opportunities associated with business re-engineering in terms of sustainable

waste management are great. An example can be illustrated by one of the major retail chains in
South Africa that has identified packaging wastes as a serious concern. The company has put
pressure on the suppliers of various plastic packaging as a minimum standard to include the
stamp identifying the type of plastic on the base of the container in an attempt for easier
identification and therefore post consumer recovery for recycling. In addition, there are also
ongoing investigations in terms of alternative packaging (e.g. composting packaging) for food
The promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Management Bill will
hopefully speed these processes up, as the Minister will have the authority to demand integrated
waste management plans to be submitted by certain industries as well as require that waste
management officers be appointed.

New markets
Many opportunities are presenting themselves in terms of alternatives to landfill. There is
increased emphasis on the recovery and recycling of recyclables as well as the recycling of green
waste and sewage sludge for composting, and the crushing of builders’ rubble for re-use in the
construction industry.

Building rubble crushing is taking place in and around Cape Town and the recovered material
used in a variety of civil applications. This area has been identified at the municipal level as ‘low-
hanging fruit’ and an accessible waste fraction to recover from landfill disposal.

Raw Materials
It is well known that the recycling of various recyclables reduces the need of raw material
required for many applications. This is especially the case for metals, glass, paper and plastics.
There are also energy, water savings and reduced emissions attached to the recycling of

Implementing Instruments
There are a number of key instruments which can be used to achieve policy initiatives, objectives
and targets of waste minimisation through push and pull type mechanisms. Push factors refer to
legislation and law enforcement, permits, and control in terms of direct regulations. Tariffs, levies,
deposits, market creation and financial support refer to indirect methods which can be applied.
Pull factors rely more on self regulation in terms of information and the continuation of collective
initiatives like the waste minimisation clubs.

Green Procurement Policies

Green Procurement Policies (GPP) or sustainable purchasing practices are an effective tool in
terms of stimulating the demand side of the economy in terms of alternative markets including the
recycling economy. The basis of green procurement is the principle of pollution prevention,
reduction of risks to human health and the environment. Therefore, organizations need to
evaluate providers of goods and services in terms of theses principles. Government
organizations should lead by example in terms of GPP. An example of this can be in terms of

33 DEAT, 2007
© Jeffares & Green 16
05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008

paper supply where governmental departments (or any organization) stipulate that a certain
percentage of the paper must include recycled content.

The Western Cape Provincial Government (i.e. the Department of Environmental Affairs and
Development Planning) have taken a proactive approach and are in the process of developing a
Green Procurement Policy document. This document is not yet available to the public, but it
shows the commitment of the Provincial government.


The City has planned well ahead in terms of solid waste management based on current waste
generation volumes with both waste minimisation efforts and without, especially in terms of
capital outlay necessary. The plans were based on an average 6% increase in waste volumes per
annum, which according to current waste disposal trends may be too little. It is not certain
whether planning has taken into account the 2010 soccer world cup and the potential impact of
additional waste generated by preparations leading up to and post this three week event.

As discussed the City’s primary objective is to minimise waste to landfill. In order to achieve this,
a number of initiatives are planned or have already been initiated. The next phase of Waste Wise
has commenced to continue a broad education and awareness campaign about the importance
of waste minimisation and recycling.

A dual collection system called the ‘Think Twice Campaign’ has rolled out in the Atlantic area in
Cape Town, including Pinelands, Blaauberg and Parklands and involves about 10 000
households to source separate their waste into dry and wet waste. The dry fraction is sorted at a
material recovery facility (MRF) in Maitland, which has received an Environmental Authorisation
from DEA&DP. The Helderberg area, including Somerset West, Gordon’s Bay and Strand will
come on board in August 2008. A further EIA process is currently taking place to secure an
Environmental Authorisation for a MRF in Strand.

Melani Materials, a BEE subsidiary of Afrimat has been contracted since February 2008 to crush
and remove builders’ rubble from Coastal Park and Bellville South. Mobile crushing units will be
placed at the landfill sites and process up to 800 tons of rubble per day. Plans include the
placement of mobile units at Athlone Refuse Transfer Station and Gordon’s Bay Drop off Facility
in the near future.

Crushed material will then be processed and sold in bulk to the construction industry for various
civil applications.

The integrated waste management by-law is in its final stages and it will be promulgated once the
National Waste Management Bill has been promulgated towards the end of the year. In a sense
the by-law will give teeth to the National Waste Management Bill and repeal many of the outdated
by-laws currently in place.

Waste minimization starts with the individual and as stated by Novella (2000): ‘Good waste
management starts at home’’

© Jeffares & Green 17

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008


Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. 1989: Environment Conservation Act 73 of

1989. Juta Statutes, Volume 6.

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. 2007. National Environmental Management:

Waste Bill (B-39-2007)

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 2000a: White Paper on Integrated Pollution
and Waste Management for South Africa. Government Notice 227; 17 March 2000.

Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. 1998: National Water Act 36 of 1998. Juta Law
Statutes. 2001. Volume 6.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. 1998: 2 Edition. Waste Management Series:
Minimum Requirements for the Handling, Classification and Disposal of Hazardous Waste. CTP
Book Printers Cape Town.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. 1998: 2 Edition. Waste Management Series:
Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill. CTP Book Printers Cape Town.

Engledow, S. 2005: The Strategic Assessment of a curbside recycling initiative in Cape Town as
a tool for Integrated Waste Management. Masters Thesis – unpublished. University of Cape

Engledow, S; Eichstadt, L. 2007: Integrated Resource Analysis – Solid Waste Management:

Baseline Study. Report prepared for the Sustainability Institute. Resource Management Services
- Unpublished.

Government Notice 614. 1944. Offensive Trade Regulations for the City of Cape Town.

Ingerop Africa. 2005: Community waste drop off centres: Investigation for the management of
builders rubble in the Metro. Unpublished.

Mega-tech. 2004a: Integrated Waste Management Plan for the City of Cape Town: Final Status
Quo Report. City of Cape Town.

Mega-tech. 2004b: Integrated Waste Management Plan for the City of Cape Town: Draft
Assessment Report. City of Cape Town.

Naidoo, S. 2007. Black Power. Business Times, 20 May 2007. Article based on the findings of the
‘Black diamonds 2007 survey conducted in March 2007 by the UCT Unilever Institute and
Research and TNS Research surveys.

White, P.R.; Frank, M.; Hindle, P. 1995: Integrated Solid Waste Management: A Lifecycle
inventory. Chapman & Hall, Scotland.

Wolman, A. 1966: A ‘Scientific America’ Book. Penguin, Harmondsworth


Novella, P. 2008. Telephone and E-mail correspondence

© Jeffares & Green 18

05-1683: Sustainable Solid Waste Management 30 June 2008


City of Cape Town. 2001: Population Census 2001.

City of Cape Town, 2001: Cape Town’s Economy: Current Trends and Future Prospects.

e-Waste Association of South Africa. 2008:

OECD Factbook. 2008. Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics - ISBN 92-64-04054-4 - ©
OECD 2008 (

University of Michigan. 2008: Computer Industry Impacts on the Environment and Society.

PET Plastic Recycling South Africa. 2008:

Western Cape Provincial Government. 2005. The Western Cape Provincial Economic Review
and Outlook.

© Jeffares & Green 19