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Industry experts gathered last week in Cape Town to discuss the fact that South Africa is running out of landfill space and urgent solutions to what is being dubbed “the waste crisis”.

The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) hosted the conference titled Landfill 2019 to bring waste management professionals together to discuss the issue.

Chris Wiid, Landfill 2019 chairperson from the IWMSA, said on average, each person generates up to 2kg of waste a day (more than 125 million tons of hazardous and general waste a year).

“The major issue with this waste generation is that the majority of it goes to landfill.”

Legislation passed in August now bans all liquid waste from landfills – and signalled a massive shift in South African waste laws while placing significant importance on the effective management of such waste by waste producers and the waste industry alike.

Jason McNeil, chief executive at Interwaste, a South African integrated waste management company, said with the latest legislation, industrial waste such as liquid wastes will now also need to be recycled/repurposed and/or managed through innovative technologies.

“Typically, recycling is seen as a consumer exercise and is driven by plastic, glass and paper. However, in the waste industry we all have a significant role to play in first, recycling products that are banned from landfill; and second, helping producers find better ways of turning their corporate/industrial waste into some useful products,” said McNeil.

Most major cities and local municipalities across South Africa have very little space left and are in serious trouble.

There was a collective agreement that there needs to be firm discussion around alternative technology that looks at tapping into the waste stream for resources.

“At the end of the day, we need to alleviate the pressure on landfills,” said Vice-chairperson of Landfill 2019, Reon Pienaar.

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