An analysis of waste minimisation initiatives in the City of Cape Town, South Africa

Nkala, Zandile Carol (2012-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Mounting pressure on waste management has forced the City of Cape Town (CCT) to progressively move towards achieving an integrated waste management system (IWMS). This system presents a holistic approach of dealing with waste issues. The waste management hierarchy indicates that the ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach of waste management is more ideal as compared to the traditional ‘cradle-to-grave’ approaches of waste management, example landfilling. However the challenges that have transpired in the rollout of waste minimisation initiatives highlight the need to continuously improve the system. This thesis investigates the municipal solid waste (MSW) minimisation programmes initiated by the CCT Solid Waste Management Department. A systems approach that combined both quantitative and qualitative methodologies was employed in the analysis. A material flow analysis (MFA) model was used to trace the flow of waste through the waste management system. The benefit of applying the MFA approach for waste management problems has been highlighted in literature in terms of identifying potential recycling, and other, waste-treatment technologies, and predicting the outcomes of waste treatment and disposal initiatives. The main objective of this study was to apply an adapted MFA method in order to determine the progress of the existing waste minimisation programmes and to also determine the opportunities to utilise biodegradable and other recyclable components of the waste streams; thereby improving the IWMS of the CCT. The MFA provided a conceptual understanding of the flow of waste materials in the CCT. The mass assessment of waste minimisation facilities, such as the Bellville compost plant and Athlone material recovery facility and refuse transfer station, unveiled that there is still a large amount of biodegradable and recyclable municipal solid waste that ends up in landfills regardless of the waste minimisation facilities available. However, it is still immature at this stage to conclude the success of the Think Twice campaign, since this is a fairly new initiative that relies on the response rate of the public. There are challenges associated with the recyclable waste recovery rates such as public awareness, proper advertising, operational problems that still need to be addressed. The MFA results also showed the final sinks of the different waste types that are sent through the different waste minimisation facilities run by the CCT. The current institutional arrangements and legislative environment have been greatly improved but there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed. The largest, overall challenge is devising a practical plan of ‘closing the loop’ in order to develop a circular economy. The concept of ‘cradle-to-cradle’ seems to be premised on extended producer responsibility and other stringent control mechanisms, which are currently believed, will yield negative consequences in the South African context. A lot more work needs to be done to achieve a genuinely integrated and sustainable solid waste management system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Stad Kaapstad streef na ‘n geïntegreerde afval beheer sisteem (GABS) as gevolg van toenemende druk op die bestuur van afval. Hierdie stelsel bied 'n holistiese benadering tot die hantering van afval-probleme. Die afvalbestuur-klassifikasie wys dat die “wieg-tot-wieg” benadering meer ideaal is as die tradisionele “wieg-tot-graf” benaderings van afvalbestuur, byvoorbeeld die bestaande sorteringsterreine. Die uitdagings wat voor-gekom het in die bekendstelling van afvalbeperkingsinisiatiewe het getoon dat daar ‘n voortdurende behoefte is om die stelsel te verbeter. Hierdie tesis ondersoek die munisipale vaste-afvalbeperkingsprogamme wat deur die Stad Kaapstad se Departement Vaste-Afvalbestuur geïnisieer is. Beide kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe metodes is gebruik om die analises uit te voer. ‘n Materiaal vloei-analise model (MVM) is gebruik om die vloei van afval deur die afvalbestuur-sisteem te volg. Die voordeel van die toepassing van die MVM-model word uitgelig in die literatuur in terme van identifisering van potensiële herwinning en ander afvalbehandelings-metodes en die voorspelling van die uitkomste van afval-behandeling en wegdoen-inisiatiewe. Die hoofdoel van die studie was om ‘n aangepaste MVM-metode toe te pas om die vordering van die bestaande afvalbeperkings programme vas te stel asook om die gebruik van bioafbreekbare en ander herwinbare komponente van die afvalstrome beter te kan benut en daardeur ‘n verbetering van die GABS van die Stad Kaapstad teweeg te bring. Die MVM het goeie insig gebied in die vloei van afvalmateriaal in die Stad Kaapstad. Die massa-waardebepaling van afvalverminderings-fasiliteite, soos die Belville kompos-aanleg en die Athlone materiaalherwinningsfasiliteit asook die afval-oordragstasie, het onthul dat daar nog groot hoeveelhede biodegradeerbare munisipale vaste-afval in die stortingsterreine beland ten spyte van die afvalbeperkings-fasiliteite wat beskikbaar is. Dit is egter nog te vroeg om ‘n gevolgtrekking oor die sukses van die “Think Twice” veldtog te maak aangesien dit 'n redelike nuwe inisiatief is wat op die terugvoer van die publiek staatmaak. Daar is uitdagings wat verband hou met die herwinbare afvalhersteltempo’s soos byvoorbeeld: openbare bewustheid, goeie advertering asook operasionele probleme wat nog aangespreek moet word. Die MVM resultate het ook ‘n daling in die verskillende afval-tipes wat deur die verskillende afvalbeperkingsfasiliteite van die Stad Kaapstad gestuur word, getoon. Die huidige institusionele reëlings en wetgewende omgewing het baie verbeter, maar daar is nog 'n aantal skuiwergate wat aangespreek moet word. Die grootste algehele uitdaging tans is die ontwerp van ‘n praktiese plan om die skuiwergate te oorkom en om ‘n kringloop in die ekonomie te ontwikkel. Die "wieg-totwieg" benadering berus op uitgebreide produsente verantwoordelikheid en ander streng beheermaatreëls wat waarskynlik negatiewe gevolge in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks gaan oplewer. Daar is egter nog baie werk wat gedoen moet word om ‘n geïntegreerde en volhoubare stelsel vir die bestuur van vaste-afval daar te stel.

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