Organic waste is set to be the next big waste stream to be attacked. In its drive to clean up the environment the South African government has targeted organic waste. In addition to agricultural and garden waste this includes abattoir waste, sewerage waste and food waste amongst others.
Organic waste is bad because it decomposes releasing methane which is twenty times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Treating organic waste can result in it releasing carbon dioxide instead.
Government has put legislation in place which will ban organic waste from being sent to landfill starting with a 50% ban in 2022. That is the easy part: the hard part is how to implement it. The municipalities are barely coping with landfills at the moment. With respect, I don’t believe that most municipalities have the infrastructure to deal with enforcing a ban on organic waste. And if they do, what will happen to the waste, where will it go?
The private sector can help build our future through organic waste recycling
The private sector has the ingenuity and capacity to treat the organic waste. Solutions include composting, using a fly farm and waste to food, feed or energy plants. No doubt other solutions will follow. These treatments are tried and trusted; the difficulty is in the detail. Collecting and transporting organic waste generally require dedicated containers and vehicles which are expensive.
Smart Waste has been proactive in addressing the organic waste challenge. We are founder members of the Organics Recycling Association of SA. This organization is set to become the representative body of the organic industry. It is also busy engaging with municipalities and the government. We are presently working with 3 of the supermarket chains finding ways of safely collecting and disposing of organic (food) waste in a financially viable way.
2022 sounds a long way off but it will require a change of mind set and practice to dispose of organic waste. And our habit of throwing away organic waste instead of recycling it will take time to change.
Image: Christian Guthier