Landfill site audit: AfriForum concerned over results

AfriForum published its annual landfill site audit report today, after the auditing of landfill sites earlier this year in towns/cities where AfriForum’s branches are located. This report will be discussed with Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environmental Affairs, and also submitted to the Green Scorpions to investigate, as only 17% (24 of 135) of these landfills comply with the minimum requirements of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008).

Legislation stipulates specific requirements landfill sites have to comply with. A list with 33 questions was compiled using these requirements as guidelines, and used to conduct the landfill site audit.

“The low percentage can be attributed to several problems at municipalities that lead to poor and illegal management of our landfill sites. Irregular spending of funds, substandard maintenance and a lack of competent personnel is but a few of the problems we encounter every day. The biggest challenge is officials in municipalities who know very well there won’t be any repercussions for their poor management. It is concerning to know that the majority of landfill sites in South Africa don’t even comply with the minimum requirements,” says Lambert de Klerk, Manager of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.

AfriForum is aware of the fact that some landfill sites have closed down and that no new sites will be developed to replace them (e.g. in Pretoria). This will result in an increase in the volume of waste that will be dumped at the remaining sites. This is concerning because these sites will also fill up at a faster rate and subsequently be closed down.

“We met with Barbara Creecy after 2019’s landfill site audit and plan on doing that again this year. This will enable us to identify landfill sites we want to fix together with government and where public/private partnerships (PPP) can be established.”

AfriForum will design a new audit questionnaire for 2021 which includes transfer stations, due to the appalling conditions at many of the transfer stations in municipalities.

The establishment of waste monitoring committees is crucial in holding municipal officials accountable.

Communities can follow these steps to bring about sustainable improvement at a landfill site:

  • Communities must place pressure on municipalities to establish waste monitoring committees.
  • A meeting must be held once a month during which the state of the landfill site is discussed and goals with feasible deadlines are set.
  • Build good relationships with the municipalities and role-players involved.
  • Insist on the appointment of a trusted service provider that is competent to do the work.
  • Apply sustainable pressure via the waste monitoring committee to ensure that the deadlines that were set are adhered to.

De Klerk says various alternative solutions are available to municipalities to manage waste more effectively and to make an even better contribution to communities. “There are numerous solutions that can promote the dumping of only unusable waste in landfills, such as the waste-to-energy principle, eco blocks, PPP, as well as the example that was followed by building plastic roads, as in Jeffreys Bay.”

De Klerk believes municipalities should consider these types of solutions to get South Africa’s waste management up to standard. “AfriForum is willing to help with the implementation of solutions and encourages municipalities to contact the organisation. It is the responsibility of each and everyone one of us to ensure that our environment is not polluted and for that reason we also want to contribute to a cleaner South Africa.”

This is how landfill sites performed in each province with regard to the minimum requirements:

Province Number of landfill sites audited Number of landfill sites that comply with more than 80% of the minimum requirements Number of landfill sites that don’t comply with the minimum requirements
  2020 2020 2020
Gauteng 16 11 5
KwaZulu-Natal 8 1 7
Limpopo 9 1 8
Mpumalanga 19 0 19
Northern Cape 15 0 15
North West 18 2 16
Eastern Cape 6 1 5
Free State 25 0 25
Western Cape 19 8 11
National total 135 24 111

Help to keep your environment clean and neat: SMS the name of your town to 45354 (R1) and join this initiative.

  • Read the report here.

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