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Load shedding forces Joburg to think out of the box

JOBURG – The move will also ensure that waste pickers are included in the waste value chain and that they operate efficiently, says Mathebula.

Intermittent load shedding that continues to affect all municipal utilities can be mitigated by re-purposing waste and moving away from disposing waste at landfill sites.

This emerged in a presentation by Environment and Infrastructure Services Department’s deputy director Mvuselelo Mathebula, who is responsible for waste management and regulations.

He said a number of key projects have been lined up in the city to divert waste from landfill sites by recycling and using waste to generate electricity.

Mathebula said a landfill gas to energy project, which extracts methane gas from four of the city’s landfill sites, used the gas to generate electricity at the Robinson Landfill site and is already contributing a number of kilowatts to the national grid.

The department has set in motion a process to divert at least a third of the city’s total waste towards a project that will then generate between 30 and 40 megawatts of electricity.

The department has already procured transaction advisory services through the Development Bank of South Africa, which has just completed a review of a feasibility study that was concluded in 2015. The bank was expected to take the project to financial closure, he said.

Mathebula also made reference to another project that is meant to re-purpose and derive value from waste. This project has now entered the construction phase and will convert biomass from the Joburg Fresh Produce Market and food waste from restaurants, to energy.

Some of the gas will be shared with Metrobus for its gas-powered fleet and the balance will be used to generate electricity as part of the landfill gas to energy project at Robinson Deep, Mathebula said.

Apart from the technology driven approaches to minimising waste in the city, Mathebula said the department was also working on strategies to integrate waste pickers into the formal waste sector by developing sorting sites for them in all the regions of the city. This will hopefully eradicate the proliferation of illegal sorting sites prevalent in the city, he said.

This exercise will involve identifying all the existing illegal sorting facilities to determine the resource needed for waste pickers. Mathebula said the move would ensure that the unsightly and environmental unfriendly sorting facilities were eradicated.

The move would also ensure that waste pickers were included in the waste value chain and that they operated efficiently to benefit from the multi-million rand recycling industry.

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