Cape Town - It is a habit many people have and it is costing billions of rands.
Like the rest of the country, Cape Town is facing the challenge of litter dumped in places it should not be. Shopping centres, beaches and public roads are filled with garbage.
A walk to informal settlements paints a filthy picture. Open spaces are used as illegal dumping sites. Environmental activist Musa Chamane from Ground Work, a non-profit environmental justice service, said he believes South Africa is a filthy nation.
“We litter, sometimes thinking it will not affect us. Children are playing at these dumping sites and sometimes collect hazardous items. What we throw on the ground has an impact on the environment,” said Chamane.
He believed this was caused mainly by a lack of education.
“People are not educated in terms of waste management. It is not done at young age and adults are not teaching children because they also litter so much,” added Chamane.
Chamane said littering was also caused by a lack of service delivery.
“Informal settlements do not get a truck collecting waste for them every week, as in formal residential areas. What other options do those people will have? They will have the option of throwing it in an open space. The waste collection should be more frequent than once a week in townships too. Townships families have 10 or 12 family members and they cannot afford to buy black paper bags, and they will just put everything in a bin and dump it in the nearest corner,” stated Chamane.
He made another example of adults throwing litter out of vehicles while driving. He said the driver, not even the children, will finish whatever they were eating and throw it out of the window.
“In town, when someone has bought a can and they are done with it, they will just throw it on the floor,” he said.
The City’s mayoral committee member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said the municipality spends around R2.5 billion annually on waste.
“The City’s Collections Branch’s Budget (formal properties) is about R1 billion annually. The Collections Branch provides a refuse collection service to formal properties. Most properties receive this service weekly, but others that generate higher volumes of waste at a property – such as restaurants – can apply for more frequent collections,” said Limberg.
The budget covers refuse collection of 240-litre bins, provision of bins and recycling projects, and all associated costs.
Limberg also said the other R1.5 billion goes to what she called the Cleansing Branch’s annual budget, which includes servicing of informal settlements by means of a weekly door-to-door refuse collection service, with bags provided, street cleaning/litter picking, and clearing illegal dumping.
“Littering and dumping remain a chronic challenge for the City. The causes of dumping and littering are mainly behavioural. The City of Cape Town has run anti-littering and dumping campaigns in previous years, and continues to engage communities on the importance of reporting illegal dumping, and not littering,” added Limberg.
Limberg said that the City has a network of drop-off facilities that recycles garden refuse, clean builders rubble, garage waste, e-waste, oil, among other waste types. Residents can make use of these facilities free of charge.
Chamane said education on waste management should start as early as possible.
“Teach children about separation at the source because waste is a resource for people who are waste pickers. At households, we must have dry waste and wet waste bins. Wet waste should not go to a normal bin, it can be deposited on the ground and can be buried,” said Chamane.