Home » General » Recycling – Missing Link in Waste Management

It is a hot Sunday afternoon. The scene is Kuwadzana 4 Shopping Centre. Members of the Kuwadzana Seventh Day Aentist Church armed with shovels, brooms and rakes battle moulds of refuse illegally dumped a few metres from the abandoned bus terminus.

Their target is to clean the illegal dump before the end of clean-up campaign. The campaign is part of the church’s community outreach programmes aimed at encouraging residents to keep their environments clean.

Various clean up campaigns have been undertaken in the suburbs but it seems they have failed to clear the mounting garbage.

Just like most suburbs, illegal dumping in Kuwadzana has become a problem with garbage in some instance threatening to block roads. Garbage has been piling at street corners something that has been blamed on council’s failure to regularly collect refuse.

Residents say they have no choice but to dump garbage at certain spots and hope council comes to periodically remove the dump sites.

It is illegal to dump garbage at un-designated spaces but that law has been ignored.

Most street corners have of late become dumping sites. Even shops have no proper garbage disposal mechanism that has seen waste mounting behind most shopping centres.

Garbage from shops, vendors selling roasted mealies, sadza and others small items has found its way to these illegal dumping sites. Dogs and some people scavenge the rubbish heap for some valuables while rodents and snakes have made the place their home.

In most cases these dumps now throw a pungent smell.

A quick scan on the refuse heap shows that the bulk of the garbage at most site is biodegradable and should never had been brought to the dump site in the first instance.

The bulk of the material that makes the garbage is material that should have been used in the gardens and composite heaps to create manure. Unfortunately lack of knowledge has seen the bulk of biodegradable material getting their way to the illegal dumpsites and to the council dumpsites.

Disposal of litter is now a big problem that the country needs to find a lasting solution. Environmentalists say residents need to be educated about the impact of littering through campaigns if Zimbabwe is to arrest the problem of mounting waste.

They said it was imperative that residents be educated of the need to separate litter so that all biodegradable matter is not taken to dumpsites. This has seen the city producing more garbage that it is supposed.

Director and founder of the Institute of Waste Management Of Southern Africa Mr Simon Bere said there was need for strategic plan to promote the integrated waste management that will ensure that the city produces less waste.

He said the bulk of the matter was biodegradable and it made little sense that matter that can decompose is taking tens of kilometres away to decay at Pomona dumpsite.

“What needs to be emphasized on is reduction. Different packing should be availed for the household so that they can separate the waste with all agric matter finding their way to composites. On the other side matter such as glass, plastics and metal being placed and collected separately for recycling and mixed as it is now something that makes any recovery, reuse and recycling difficult.

“Government should also come up with legislation forcing council to reduce the amount of waste it is taking to the dumpsite,” Mr Bere said.

Another environmentalist said Harare must start by increasing education among residents so that they know what needs to sent to the dumpsite and what must be put on to the composite.

“Surely the bulk of the materials on our dumps are husks, rotting vegetable matter and food leftovers that in fact should be used to make composites.

“It must start providing three or more bin liners to encourage residents to deposit their litter according to type. This will make it easy for recycling and dumping of material,” said one environmentalist.

Council dumpsites are always littered with people scavenging for recyclable materials, a clear sign that the matter dumped is reusable. A visit to Pomona dumpsite reveals that picking of recyclable material has become big business in Harare.

Environmentalists say the bulk of materials that is filling our dumpsites can be recycled and hence should not make it to these places at the first place.

Mr Bere, however said it was imperative to put in place measures that allow and promote the separation of waste among them provision of separate bins for different waste.

“Even when residents separate waste the dump trucks used by the City of Harare are not designed to carry the waste differently. Unlike in other cities like London where trucks are divided into components to carry the waste separately, the local trucks promote the mixing of waste. Until then can we talk of separation of waste at source,” Mr Bere said.

Only few methods of waste disposal have been used in Zimbabwe among them recycling and landfill.

Environmental Management Agency spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said the authority was working with community to promote separation of waste and ensure that all decomposing matter was used at the local level while paper, plastic, bottles and metals were recycled.

“EMA is working with some community-based organisation to promote separation and recycling of waste in the city. The project has been stalled by the fact that there are few engaging in recycling of waste. We still need more.

“We are happy that a bigger company Petricozim will be launched soon to recycle pet plastic bottles. This will indeed account for the bulk of the plastic bottles that are now in use in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Kangata said it was more appreciable if companies follow their products through their lifecycles – a system we call “from cradle to grave.”

Harare City spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi said the city already has a comprehensive community participation programme through the training and capacitation of anti-litter monitors.

He said the city had launched a pilot programme in partnership with OXFAM in the 58 Mbare Hostels where communities are being educated in the separation at source concept.

“After the training, colour coded bins will be provided. The rollout to other suburbs will take place based on the success of the pilot programme”, he said.

But it should however be born in mind that separation at source requires full community and stakeholder participation.

“At the individual households where the separation at source is happening – the people are already enjoying the benefits. They are using the organic matter as manure selling bottles and plastics for recycling.

“Once separation at source gains acceptability colour coded bins would be provided. Companies that benefit from the separation should also come on board and provide the colour coded bins,” Mr Gwindi said.

The programme required a huge capital outlay for the procurement of bins and the educational campaign.

Mr Bere said there was need for a centralised way of dealing with waste in Zimbabwe.

“We ought to harness the good work that is being done by many organizations. The city must lead the way and work with other community based organisations in the country. Without Harare taking the lead, it will be difficult to deal with the rising problem of waste in the country.

“Government must start by pacing legislation forcing council to reduce the amount of waste it is taking to the dumpsites.”

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Source : The Herald