Friday the 17th of September is National Recycling Day in South Africa, and whilst most South Africans are very good at recycling their paper, plastics, glass and metal items, what many do not realise is that they can also recycle their organic waste! Organic waste is anything that was once alive – food waste, garden refuse, wood, paper and compostable packaging are just a few examples!
“We need to rethink waste!” says Melanie Ludwig from The Organics Recycling Association of South Africa (ORASA). “In the Western Cape more than 40% of all waste delivered to landfills is organic waste. By recycling our organic waste into compost, we have the power to reverse climate change and replenish the health of our soils! Households can easily practice home composting to produce compost that can be used in their own gardens, while on a larger scale and to ensure sustainability, composting at community gardens can grow wholesome food for less fortunate communities.”
In the Western Cape more than 3 million tons of organic waste end up in landfills every year! This has a deleterious effect on the environment as the production of environmentally harmful methane – a greenhouse gas – during anaerobic decomposition of organic material in landfills and leachate production is a key driving force behind our climate crisis and surface and ground water contamination. This can be addressed by the reduction of organic waste in landfills. As of the beginning of 2022, the Western Cape Organics Landfill Ban will come into effect requiring a 50% reduction in organic waste being allowed in landfills with a 100% ban by 2027!
“We need a new approach to all waste streams in South Africa, not just organics,” says Ludwig. “Source separation of waste is required to ensure that each waste stream can be effectively and efficiently recycled, composted or reused!”
So what can you do to recycle your organic waste? National Recycling Day is the perfect day to start! Have a bucket or container in your kitchen for all food and compostable waste, then once this is full simply transfer this outside to your compost unit. There it can be composted with all of your garden waste producing nutritious compost that can be put back into your garden, while at the same time helping to reverse climate change!