Sanitation issues brought to the table

The City of Cape Town’s solid waste department has undertaken to meet with a Hout Bay environmental interest group to tackle issues of waste disposal and sustainability.

This was the result of a meeting of the Hout Bay River Catchment Forum and other stakeholders at the Kronendal Primary School library on Friday June 9.

The briefing followed a public meeting in May which addressed ongoing problems with storm water, sewerage and water quality in Hout Bay.

At last week’s meeting, representatives from the City’s solid waste department explained the current waste situation, while a presentation was also made on a proposed waste minimisation project for Imizamo Yethu.

A major point that arose was that a door-to-door waste collection service that had been rolled out by the City in Imizamo Yethu was not being run efficiently. This runs concurrently with the formal waste collection process.

“This system is not working,” said Thrive Hout Bay director Bronwen Lankers-Byrne.

Eugene Hlongwane, refuse collections superintendent at the solid waste department, said he had been unaware of this issue, but would pursue the matter.

Ms Lankers-Byrne said that since 2005 people had been living like “pigs” in squalor, while rubbish that clogged the drains was having a severe impact on the stormwater system.

In an effort to ease the situation, the Thrive team had conceptualised a waste minimisation proposal for the informal settlement. Based on the Hangberg Zero Waste (H0W?) pilot project being run in Hangberg, waste would be collected for separating into recyclable and non-recyclable waste at mini material recovery facilities (MRFs).

Currently there are 10 shipping containers into which the community collects and stores mixed waste for transporting to landfill. These, Ms Lankers-Byrne said, could be converted into a mini MRF by fencing them off and demarcating them for collection of recyclables, food waste and landfill waste.

The focus would be on the Zola and Mbeki areas, the area opposite the waste drop-off depot, where 550 households currently send their mixed waste. The estimated cost for conversion of one MRF would be R36 500, which would cover the costs of fencing and poles, a sliding gate, roof cover, 20-litre buckets and signage.

She said it cost R1.8 million a month to transport Hout Bay waste to landfill.

However Alison Davison, head of waste minimisation at the department, cautioned that recycling would not solve all waste issues.

“We first need to look at the current contractor and see why the (door-to-door) programme is not working. If we are going to do recycling, we need to get it sorted at the source, which is people’s homes. We can’t have a situation where EPWP (Extended Public Works Programme) workers are sorting through dirty nappies. Priority number one is to look at the dissatisfaction with the current contractor,” she said.

Catchment Forum chair Terry Murphy said the issue was then twofold: what could be done to make the contractor better and how could the Imizamo Yethu pilot project best be implemented?

Ms Davison said it should be borne in mind that stakeholders coming to the City would be viewed as an unsolicited bid, and the framework should rather come from the City.

Mr Hlongwane said it was clear both the City and stakeholders had the same goal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

“In terms of the contractor, there may be contractual issues we have to deal with” he said.

He was open to a representative body from the community meeting with him and officials from the planning and collection unit to present a type of business plan for the initiative. This meeting has been penned in for later this month.

He added: “Solid Waste has to appoint 10 000 people from the EPWP, so they could assist in such an initiative. One of the challenges we face though is keeping people in the project. To clean the temporary relocation area (established after the Imizamo Yethu fires) we struggled to get even eight people. That is something you need to keep in mind.”