Initiative launched to find sustainable solutions for KZN’s Class A landfill | Infrastructure news

Dolphin Coast Landfill Management (DCLM), operated by Veolia, has partnered with Global Alliance Africa, a project of Innovate UK KTN, the UK government’s largest innovation network, to launch an initiative aimed at cleaning up contaminated wastewater and repurposing refuse at one of South Africa’s largest landfills.

Located along the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the 144.6-hectare site processes a variety of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, serving multiple communities in the area. Moreover, the site plays a crucial role in processing waste generated by the local paper manufacturing industry.

The initiative sees DCLM, the landfill operator, launch two Open Innovation challenges. These challenges look to connect organisations with solutions found typically outside of their immediate industry. Applications are therefore open to innovators and entrepreneurs from all sectors in South Africa.

Finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas to DCLM, with winning applicants given the opportunity to collaborate on a pilot project at their North Coast site. Winners can also secure up to GBP 25,000 (ZAR 593,000) in seed funding, which will be supplemented by technical support from the DCLM team, as well as mentorship and access to sector expertise through the Global Alliance Africa project.

“Population growth and resource scarcity mean we need to start exploring more circular models of how we produce, consume, and treat waste. Older and linear approaches can’t keep up with the demands of today, let alone tomorrow. As landfill operators, we need to start working with the communities we serve, and together explore new, innovative and sustainable ways of managing our waste. Together with Global Alliance Africa, this initiative is our way of helping local industry take that step towards finding new value in old goods which can be recovered, reused, and recycled,” explains DCLM’s personnel.

Commenting on the launch of the two Open Innovation challenges, Innovate UK KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for South Africa, Alana Kruger, says: “While we may not have asked for it, waste is everyone’s problem. That makes solving issues relating to how we manage it a collective effort. And this is why we’re excited to be working with DCLM. We’re combining our access to global knowledge and resources with their real-world insights and operations, to tackle these issues head-on and build a more circular and sustainable industry.”

The first challenge relates to contaminated wastewater generated at the DCLM landfill. Leachate is a concentrated liquid created by the biological processes that happen on a landfill site and the water that percolates through it.

DCLM are looking for an innovative method or technology to help solidify the concentrate which is eluted by the site’s effluent treatment plant. DCLM is specifically looking for ideas that make sustainable use of by-products from local industry, with the aim of complimenting its efforts aimed at developing circular economies. 

The second challenge looks to address waste generated by the paper and pulp milling industry. Recent statistics show that South Africa produces more than 2.1 million tons of paper and 12.5 million cubic meters of wood pulp annually[1]. According to researchers from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Council for Scientific and Industrial, for every ton of paper produced, pulp and paper mills generate roughly 50kg of waste. Up to 500,000 tonnes of this is sent to landfills across the country each year[2].

In an effort to reduce the amount of paper-pulp waste sent to landfills, DCLM is calling for solutions for how this refuse might be repurposed and recycled at scale into new, sustainable, and commercially viable products.

Applications for both Open Innovation challenges must be submitted by 14 July 2023.

Background on the challenges relating to waste management in South Africa

South Africa faces significant challenges relating to waste-management. According to Statistics South Africa, roughly 90% of the 122 million tons of waste produced is sent to landfill each year.

However, the country has a severe lack of available space for landfills, with demand expected to increase as the population continues to grow, and as consumption of goods increases. This is complicated by the high cost of commissioning and operating new landfill sites.

In response to this, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has launched the National Waste Management Strategy[6]. This document outlines South Africa’s aims to achieve “Zero Waste going to Landfill” and positions the development of new industries based on reused and recycled goods as key towards the development of a circular national economy.

However, the long term nature of this strategy means that communities and wildlife across South Africa continue to suffer from poor waste management. According to reporting by Daily Maverick, water sources across the country are contaminated with poorly treated wastewater.

  This comes as 56% of the country’s 1,150 treatment plants are ‘in poor or in critical condition’, with 75% of the country’s 910 municipality-run wastewater treatment works achieving less than 50% compliance to minimum effluent standards in 2020[7](see also reporting by Mail & Guardian[8]).

Background on Dolphin Coast Landfill Management, operated by Veolia:

Dolphin Coast Landfill Management (DCLM), Operated by Veolia, operates a landfill site for hazardous and non-hazardous waste on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. With a land area of 144.6 hectares and an airspace of 20 million cubic meters, the Class A site is licensed by the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment.

As part of the Veolia Group, DCLM is working to address challenges linked to resource scarcity and climate change, by making it easier, safer, and more cost-efficient for industry to recover, reuse, and recycle valuable resources from their waste.

To ensure safety and reliability, DCLM adheres to the highest international waste management standards and looks to champion the latest innovations in landfill engineering and science. Waste traceability, reporting, and environment impact monitoring are supported by the site’s ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited laboratory.

To learn more about DCLM, go to:

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