At the end of 2022, the Organic Waste Landfill Ban in the Western Cape will kick in requiring a 50% reduction in organic waste going to landfill. The Organics Recycling Association of South Africa is actively marketing the new requirements with regards to the management of organic waste to ensure valuable organic waste is saved from landfills. While 22 495 households in Cape Town have received free home composting bins and are composting food and garden waste in their backyards, the real difference will be seen when large organic waste generators such as retailers, restaurants, hotels and big food producers source and separate their food waste, and sign up to have the waste collected and processed into compost. A single restaurant can produce up to 5 tons of food waste per month and an hotel between 10 and 20 tons per month.
Annually, more than 3 million tons of organic waste ends up in landfills in the Western Cape. Not only is this waste taking up scarce landfill space, which we are rapidly running out of, but organic waste produces environmentally harmful greenhouse gases when landfilled which contribute to climate change. Given the rising costs of fertilisers in the world today recovering nutrients from waste is also vital for sustainable, organic food production.
The City of Cape Town is an example of one municipality that has taken a proactive role in promoting the recycling of organic waste to divert it from the two remaining landfills in Cape Town, Vissershoek and Coastal Park landfill. Not only have they handed out free home composters to households, but have established 20 recycling drop-offs scattered around the city where garden waste is chipped and sent for composting. In the near future the Department of Solid Waste is hoping to open up 7 of these drop offs to accept source separated food waste from households, and are piloting a community composting initiative in Langa in partnership with an NGO. Another trial underway is the collection and composting of food waste generated by informal traders through a contract with a private composting company.
What many businesses are not aware of is that under the City of Cape Town Integrated Waste Management By-law (2009) all organic waste generators producing business and industrial waste are required to register and submit an integrated waste management plan to the City of Cape Town. These plans are required to include how organic waste will be source separated (food waste, non-recyclable paper, e.g. paper towel, and garden waste), transported and processed into new products. With the up-coming ban on organic waste to landfill being implemented at the end of this year, the City will be focusing on those businesses generating large amounts of organic waste, particularly retailers, restaurants, hotels and food processing factories.
It is not only up to municipalities in the Western Cape to put plans in place to divert organic waste from landfill but everyone who creates waste, both at home and at work, to do their bit to preserve our resources by recycling organic waste into compost that can feed our soil and prevent climate change. Landfills in the Western Cape will be completely closed to organic waste by 2027 so plans need to be made now to divert this waste for a better use.