Two local recyclers based in Johannesburg hope to step up South Africa’s waste management after they won a prominent international award from UK-based NGO WasteAid.
The two local entrepreneurs, Sbu Shongwe from BoombaDotMobi and Bronwyn Jones from Bokashi Bran, each also won the equivalent of about R170 000 and six months of business mentoring.
90% of South Africa’s estimated 59-million tonnes of general waste ends up in landfills. This according to 2011 figures from Statistics South Africa.
But Shongwe hopes to be part of the solution by tackling the growing problem of illegal dumping in his Diepsloot community
“When you drive anywhere around Diepsloot you are unlikely not to come across rubble,” he says.
“The minute we get a job relating to construction waste we will look at the areas, especially the ones that are not tarred here in Diepsloot. Here in the squatter camps and so forth during the rainy season you get erosion. We rehabilitate those streets,” Shongwe also points out.
The Diepsloot initiative is one of two South African companies who won the Zero Waste Cities’ Challenge hosted by the international NGO WasteAid.
More sustainable businesses needed
WatseAid SA’s project manager Thabo Selai says, “Around the Johannesburg area landfills have reached their capacity. So there’s a need to eliminate or discourage as much as possible illegal dumping.
“We encourage communities to be involved and to know that there is a livelihood that can be made through waste.”
Bronwyn Jones from Bokashi Bran, the other local winner of the WasteAid initiative, says they focus on treating food waste and keeping it out of landfills.
She says research shows that the average South Africa household throws about twenty kilograms of food away each month.
“For every tonne of food waste that goes to a landfill site, 627kg of CO₂ equivalent emissions are released into the atmosphere. So, we need to find ways that we can cut our greenhouse gas emissions. And food waste going to a landfill is such an easy option,” Jones says.
Selai adds, “We believe that it is about time we create a bigger pool of sustainable businesses that are not just involved in the collection of waste but also those involved in value creation using water.”
This article was written by Adel van Niekerk and originally published by GroundUp.
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