The Stellenbosch Landfill is Full – Stakeholder Workshop, 9 July 2009, Sustainability Institute
In response to the realisation that the Stellenbosch landfill is full, and as part of the Science and Society initiative within the Sustainable Stellenbosch Programme, the Sustainability Institute convened a workshop that was attended by 75 people from Stellenbosch Municipality, the University, NGOs, businesses, community representatives, ratepayer groups, informal waste pickers living on the landfill, welfare societies and recycling organisations. The Stellenbosch landfill is not only full, if it is closed down it could cost Stellenbosch up to R2 million per month to transport the waste elsewhere, but it cannot be assumed that other local authorities will allow Stellenbosch to fill up their rapidly filling landfills. Everyone needs to pull together to resolve this problem.
Contributions and discussion ran as follows:
Thys Serfontein, Stellenbosch Municipality
The Municipality is currently doing crisis management in the short term, to comply with all permit conditions at the landfill site. The long term planning is also in process and includes:
recycling at source
chipping of green waste
crushing of builders’ rubble
making of compost
management with the informal pickers and trolley people
R4.5 m has been received by MIG funding (National Dept) to install a palisade concrete fence and sliding gates, around the site. This will hopefully be installed during Oct /Nov 09.
R3.5 m from MIG funding has been requested to install formal storm water systems on site in order to prevent contamination.
Waste is covered daily on site, as requested by permit conditions.
A boom has been installed to control all users entering the site
The Municipality is in the process to appoint a waste specialised to:
1. Do an External audit as requested by permit conditions.
2. Carry out an EIA, conceptual design and permit application on extension of landfill site.
3. Design and build Phase I of the recycling centre next to the existing landfill site
4. Design, appoint contractor and install fencing and storm water channels
5. Appoint contractor to reconstruct a part of landfill site to obtain airspace.
The Municipality has further:
Established a Landfill monitoring Committee which met on 15/04/09 and again during 20 – 24/07/09 as requested by permit condition
In the process of establishing a recycling committee with residents
In the process of extending recycling at source to Onder Pappegaaiberg and upgrading the service and communication to public in Brandwacht and Dalsig where the “blue bag system” has been implemented.
The Municipality will provide “clear bags” instead of blue bags to residents and will only provide a new clear bag in exchange for a bag full of recyclables received by the resident on collection day.
The recycling materials received in Onder Papegaaiberg will be delivered to Huis Horison.
The Municipality is currently compiling a report to DEAT in replying to their letter received on non compliance to permit conditions on site. This report includes all actions taken since April 09 and what the impact will be if the site has to be closed and waste to be transported to nearby landfill sites. The impacts of closing the site include:
1. Too expensive future waste tariffs
2. Retrenchments of workers
3. Informal pickers, earning money from the site for the past 23 years, without an income.
4. Only one small transfer station(Klapmuts) to dispose waste per compactor before transported to nearby landfill site
5. Not a given that a nearby landfill site will accept our waste as nearby sites have also 3-5 years lifespan left.
The informal pickers will be accommodated at a new recycling facility to be started build soon next to the landfill site
No person/picker will be allowed to be on the landfill site soon and public will be able to dispose/drop off their recycling material at the recycling facility.
Transfer stations will form part of the approach to waste management in the WCO24 and will be provided at communities in Franschhoek, Pniel, Kylemore, Jamestown etc.
Rudi Nel (Star Metals) & Mario Muller (Trolley Operator Representative)
They collect blue bags from some of Stellenbosch – but 3 of four trucks end up the dump. Blue bag systems not so successful given the large amount of time that it takes to sort through the bags with the high majority of non-recyclable waste.
Mario operates a trolley where he collects waste, mostly from black bags on the side of streets, and takes the full trolley to Rudi in exchange for money. People sometimes put out food for them.
It would help Mario and the other trolley operators if people were to allow them to remove their waste as well as leave recyclable materials separately so that they don’t need to sort through the bags on the curb side.
Notes from group discussions:
Private service only to those who would like to recycle, and not a blanket service.
Suppliers clearly marking products with symbols on what to go where
Community recycling at a local community level – children can do it in our own communities – need for learning at a local level and local coordination
Aspect of education – better organised system for dealing with the waste once its recycled so it is easier to recycle
Question around different approaches for different community groups
Need for education within the university (6000 hostel residents)
Wet organic waste – needs to be dealt with
Trolleys – need for more efficient format of transportation (bigger human pushed systems)
Need for knowledge sharing on value and weight – different reduction options
Problem of not being a market in the western cape for all plastic types
Blue bag system (recyclables in separate bag) in Stellenbosch not so successful as public awareness campaign not successful
Move towards not putting recyclables in separate bag but wet waste that contaminates waste
Education in small groups, and especially within the schools
Sorting at landfill sites – how to improve: more formalised system will help that
Taiwan: classical music playing collection system – pay people on collection of waste? Different ways so that people don’t need to know how to read to recycle (colours, music)
Blue bag failed as it was a pilot project – problem with health and rats, too small – practicalities are important and the supporting system
Blue bags changing to clear, will now be managed by the municipality directly
In other countries, bags that are not properly sorted get left at the houses
Dedicated people from the municipality to teach the kids in schools about recycling
Composting projects in the municipality or micro-enterprises for distribution or something?
Different bin systems?
Lack of depositing sites for newspapers, glass etc – needs to be accessible
Educating people on what is recyclable and what isn’t – not all types of plastic are recyclable: easy to follow guidelines or imaged booklets. Concept from Huis Horison.
Need for public-private partnerships to make it work – good cooperation between municipality and home owners.
Trolley people – shouldn’t be seen as a nuisance but empowered to do more. People could separate for them, provide better transport systems, should wear something people can see. Trolley people wouldn’t have to scratch in bags if people could separate the wet and dry for them.
The street people – they are removing over 11% from the landfill without fuel or additional expenses.
Need to go full out, not just pilot projects? Get private sector, councillors, municipality, people on the ground, education in the schools. Must be easy.
Mixture of drop of points and collection systems
Gordon Smith & Alex Basjan (Representatives of Pickers living on the Landfill)
Group of 70 people plus
Get up at 04h00 to get started
We collect different types of recyclables, get it to Rudi for cash
Dangers of the dump: people put things in that are poisonous to people – things from the hospitals, babies in bags
People don’t know about what we have to deal with at the landfill – if everyone takes responsibility for their own waste
People on the landfill are now registered with green bibs so that they can be seen on the landfill.
Elize le Roux (Huis Horison)
Recycling at home for the adults with disabilities that they are able to learn and manage. Good way to give them back their dignity and us to accommodate them in the work sector.
Also accommodate intellectually challenged adults from Kayamandi in the recycling projects.
Get bags of recyclable waste from Mr Recycle and they do the separation. A lot of bags have to go to the dump – education of people is the biggest challenge.
Small project with earthworms.
Public brings in a lot of recycled products to Huis Horison – always open.
Also collect from flats and work areas.
At the moment sell it to Sell Waste for some return.
Challenges are education in Stellenbosch.
Transport as a challenge. Huis Horison has the capacity for sorting, but collection and delivery are major challenges.
Andrew Milne (Spier)
Recycles 81.5% of their waste
Most waste generated on the estate is from the guest facilities, not actually the wine.
Closed loop approach / philosophy: systems where output is used as input)
Waste water recycling on the estate
Two composting initiatives (worm and normal)
Waste collection process – onsite service by waste plan, 3 daily collections at 13 sites
Importance of training with staff. Onsite recycling site – sorted and weighed.
Detailed accounting and recording.
Large majority is food / wet waste!
Importance of composting and vermiculture to reduce waste to landfill.
Current initiatives – large awareness raising in the facilities (e.g., posted in the deli) with both staff and guests.
How do we reduce 20% to landfill? Start addressing what comes on to the estate by our suppliers.
Crockery and cutlery completed biodegradable – goes straight onto the compost heap
6 full time jobs on waste sorting.
Louis de Lange (CRSES)
Converts solid waste and biomass into electricity – non-recyclable organic fraction of the waste stream. Waste stream generated by Stellenbosch large enough to power half of Stellenbosch’s homes. Use the landfill gas where possible, biogas from the sewerage treatment.
Dynamic system of human beings have crucial role in dual approach coupled with the technologies.
Do you think it is possible for the waste stream going on to the landfill, removing recyclables and organic fraction – zero waste to landfill?
Summary / Way forward:
Huge importance of education and learning, in different ways
Big emphasis on people who manage our waste
Importance of technical mechanics – solid partnerships with our municipality and the skill in the room to do that.
Going Forward for this forum / working groups?
Concerns about politics sink the attempts to address waste: engagement with politicians
Use existing energy to make things work: trolley people, municipality, systems in place – support each other. Different things must happen on different levels with different forms of incentives – ethical position for all coupled with reward systems where needed.
We need support if we going to start it at a grass roots, need help from municipality – if we recycle, need help on getting it to the right places.
Can we trust the services supplied by the municipality and government in assisting us with improving our communities
Incentives – motivate people to get started if they are not already: finding ways of motivating people.
Scanner on bins that counts number of bags, less bags you hand in less tax you pay
Short term and longer term operational approaches – need to plan in partnership.
Taking hands – a lot of initiatives and establishments already in place.
Establishing a possible forum, can work together to achieve a common goal. Split into portfolios to investigate things like the landfill, public education etc.
Need to have the forum continue once a month or so to continue – the municipality behind this project and those already going on.
Incentives for those people doing the job.
Need champions in the community as well as from the municipality – form a recycling committee out of the community so know where to start in the community, identify the right people etc.
Municipality plays a role in collection and distribution – dropping at sorting centres, then private companies can buy from there.
Importance of supporting the trolley guys and the guys on the landfill site.
Will provide the pickers on the site with a facility where they can separate the clear bags with a public drop off facility.
Short term plan is crisis management; long term plan is as described.
Landfill minimisation – mobilisation of the whole community of Stellenbosch through media, education, initiatives
Provision of infrastructures – waste collectors, drop off points
Implementation – top down and bottom up
Networking as the solution to a lot of our problems
The bigger picture is supporting people to overcome the politics
Recycling committee to coordinate and network all together
Importance of supporting Thys as pivotal point in the municipality for the next few years.
Need to be organised ourselves to do it ourselves as well.
How do we get bags to doors and stuff away from doors and separated? How do we start?
Clear bags have been ordered
Onderpapagaaiberg will be next (600 houses)
Bags will go to Huis Horison or the two buy back centres in Stellenbosch.
Request for more funding to purchase bags and extend the service.