The archaic view that our waste is worthless needs to change rapidly if South Africa wants to truly make a difference to the environment and the economy. The things we throw away – plastics, metal scraps, glass, clothing etc – all have a value and some of this worth can be recovered through recycling efforts.
Simply sending waste to a landfill and thinking that our garbage problems are solved is not the ideal mindset. Methane gas builds up under the top layers of a landfill and once it escapes, it adds to the greenhouse gases that are already pumped into the atmosphere from vehicles and factories.
Education and entrepreneurship
Society needs to be properly educated about the value of recycling – how we can reuse materials again and generate a sustainable economy from recycling waste. The refuse that cannot be recycled can then be used for other purposes such as generating electricity or being converted into compost.
The opportunities for entrepreneurs to tap into the recycling industry and create a meaningful and profitable business are countless. Harnessing the value of waste and turning it into sellable products can be done in many ways. Entrepreneurs just need to find better ways of doing this while showing society the inherent value of recycling their waste at the same time.
Responsible waste management
In South Africa, many waste management providers are fly-by-night ventures that don’t adhere to all of the laws and regulations of the country. Just because you separate your recycling at home doesn’t mean that it won’t end up in a landfill.
Waste management providers need to take more pride and responsibility in their work. However, society also needs to ensure that they know what can and can’t be recycled. Food scraps can contaminate recycling plants so cardboard takeaway boxes and leftover food in containers means that the bag of recycling cannot be sent to a recycling facility.
Together, the waste sector and society can work together for a sustainable future and harness the value of our waste. Miscommunication and misinformation are the main factors that slow progress. We need to know what can and cannot be recycled, and then ensure that the waste is correctly managed and disposed of.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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