News

THINKING TWICE IN AN INFORMAL SETTLEMENT
 
Prepared by Hout Bay Recycling Primary Co-operative, the IY Waste Task Team and the 3Rs (Dec 09)
 
A pilot project to educate and investigate whether residents living in an informal area, Imizamu Yethu, Hout Bay, are prepared to separate waste at source in order to prevent pollution, divert resources entering the waste stream and landfill sites, return resources to the industry stream and to create work.
 
Should residents in fact participate, this project furthermore aims to establish recycling types and volumes generated in such an informal living area.
 
2010 Challenge - Zero Recyclable Waste to landfill
 
11 June 2010, the long-awaited Fifa 2010 kick-off date has arrived and, with it, the appointed time to assess whether Hout Bay has met the challenge of sending Zero Recyclable Waste to Landfill.
 
Contractors WastePlan report that 97% of Hout Bay and Llandudno residents eligible to participate in the weekly, clear-bag recycling collection in fact do!
 
Congratulations, our efforts exceed that of any other Cape Town suburb. Total recycling in the year running up to 2010 was close to 1 200 tons (monthly average of 100 tons).
 
WE CAN! REduce, REuse and REcycle our waste!
 
Last year in June local Zero Waste champions challenged Hout Bay to go for the goal of Zero Recyclable Waste to landfill by June 11, kick off 2010 Fifa World Cup. 34 days to go.
 
Is it impossible? For those still not quite sure whether the hype about recycling is worth it.
 
WE BUST 8 COMMON MYTHS ASSOCIATED WITH RECYCLING.
 
What to do with Hazardous Waste
 
I know people who toss their used paint-thinners and leftover oil-paint into their wheelie bins or black refuse bags.
 
Perhaps they don’t know it’s illegal to contaminate general waste, or perhaps they’re just desperate to get rid of the nasties, and don’t care about the damage it might do to the environment or our waste trucks.
 
Find out what to do with things like used turps, old pesticides, used oil, used batteries (containing lead-acid), and electronic and electrical equipment, including cellphones (which can leak dangerous chemicals and heavy metals into the environment), CFL lightbulbs, neon light bulbs, etc.
 
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Towards Zero Waste - the art of creating compost
 
Along with recycling, using energy efficiently, conserving water and reducing meat consumption, creating a compost heap at home is an important way in which you can benefit the environment and achieve Hout Bay’s Zero Waste goal.
 
You don’t have to build a monster heap or own a huge garden, either. In a small yard, a neat compost bin is the answer. (Small spaces also lend themselves to a Bocashi bin (available at Green Living shop in Hout Bay) or a worm bin.
 
So what is compost?
 
Technically, compost is the end result of controlled aerobic decomposition of recycled organic matter into humus. The reality is a fantastic natural additive for your garden or vegetable patch, that will also save you water and money! Almost every household generates material that can be used for composting: kitchen waste, grass cuttings, leaves, or horse manure. All this organic waste can fertilize the soil instead of ‘throwing it away’ to landfill where it pollutes the air and water. You can just leave this material in a corner and allow nature to take its course over a couple of years. Or you can actively manage it, and have compost ripe and ready for use in four months!
 
Why compost?
  • Creating your own endless, organic supply of vital minerals and nutrients for your garden means never having to buy topsoil or toxic chemical fertilizers again.
  • In a landfill, organic waste decomposes anaerobically (without air) and generates dangerous methane gas. (A sizeable portion of the 700 tons of wet waste being carted from Hout Bay to landfill every month is organic.)
  • Compost makes valuable mulch, reducing your garden’s water consumption and encouraging earthworm activity.
 
Getting started
 
Choose a quiet spot that gets a mixture of sun and shade. Preferably build your heap straight onto soil, to encourage earthworms to get involved. Your heap will also need oxygen, ideally a catalyst or two, nitrogen, carbon, and moisture. Sound too scientific? Actually, it’s simple.
  • Start with a thin layer of twigs and small branches to allow air (oxygen) in.
  • If possible, add a few shovels of old compost as a ‘starter pack’ - worms, fungi and micro-organisms ready for action. Manure will also help to start the breaking-down process.
  • Try to build your compost heap in layers.
  • Green leaves, kitchen waste (covered) and grass cuttings will provide the heat and nitrogen needed.
  • Brown leaves and pine needles (not too many, as their waxy coating takes longer to break down) will supply the carbon.
  • Keep your compost heap moist (like a squeezed sponge), especially in summer, or decomposition will slow down and ants will move in.
  • To supply your heap with oxygen and speed up the composting process, turn it every three to four weeks.
  • Avoid using cooked food, bread, nuts, and citrus.  (Bury these items instead, as they too will decompose over time.)
Soon you will be able to feel the natural, earthy heat that a well-balanced compost heap generates. The best way to use your compost is to thickly mulch your beds, and around trees. Then notice how your garden smiles .

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Towards defusing the waste time-bomb
 
South Africa is sitting on a waste time-bomb, with nearly 200 unlicensed municipal landfills and an annual avalanche of 24 million tons of domestic and business rubbish.” (Statement from Sunday Times 13 December 2009)
 
Last year, Hout Bay’s contribution to that avalanche was about 84 000 tons. In Hout Bay in 2010, none of us has an excuse for not recycling all clean paper, cardboard, tins, bottles and plastic.
 
Join us in our vision of a ‘Zero Recyclable Waste’ Hout Bay by the Soccer World Cup kick-off date of 11 June. We have 133 days to reach our target!
 
If you receive the free recyclable-waste service from the City, make sure you fill your WastePlan bag/ green bag with recycling and put them out with your bin for collection. If you live in Imizamo Yethu, collect clear bags from Hout Bay Recycling at the depot, or  organise a bulk pick-up of recycling by Headman Mgabile of  HBR. Hangberg is another area that relies on community recyclers. If you live there  support any local recycling initiative or send clean recycling with your child to Sentinel School.
 
Hout Bay Business Waste Barometer
 
During the last term of 2009, thirty learners from four Hout Bay schools conducted a survey among local businesses, to establish a Hout Bay Business Waste Barometer. Alison Rice, a senior research analyst, drew up the questionnaire and analysed the results. 
 
The learners interviewed 61 businesses regarding their waste habits and knowledge. Of these businesses, 15 were in Victoria Road; 18 in Main Rd; 12 in IY and 16 in the Harbour/Hangberg. The survey revealed that 38% of businesses are making an effort to recycle; 33% recycle some types of waste irregularly; and a full 30% put their mixed waste in black bags or bins and do not recycle at all.
 
PLASTIC: RECYCLING’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE
 
Plastics are an indispensable part of modern life. Drinks, sauces, vegetables, meat, takeaways are all transported in handy – some would say fantastic – plastic. But what happens once plastic has served its short-lived purpose?
 
Will it be recycled, or will it end up in one of our burgeoning landfill sites? Consider this:
  • Recyclers look for the number inside the recycling logo to determine the composition of the plastic. They will not risk damaging expensive conversion equipment on processing unmarked plastic, which is likely to be discarded.
  • Contaminated packaging (in which one type of material overlays another) is, in the main, too complex for recyclers to separate.
  • Even when plastic is marked and uncontaminated, each plastic type needs a recycler interested in converting it.
Says Jemimah Birch, who assists Hout Bay Recycling to find buyers for their sorted waste,  “We can no longer afford to throw away our planet’s dwindling resources (particularly oil, from which plastic is made), just because it’s convenient. Plastic and organic matter are incompatible in a landfill site, and in combination result in poisons being released into the ground and air. So we, as consumers, need to compost our kitchen and garden waste, and send clean, dry waste to recyclers. But it is the producer’s responsibility to ensure that our dry waste is recyclable, so that it doesn’t in fact end up in landfill.
 
”Amazing to think that, until recently, all drinks and sauces came in glass or tin containers, and vegetables were tucked into paper bags. 
 
In an ideal, sustainable world, packaging would be limited to glass, tins, paper products and marked plastics that have a proven value to recyclers.  We may not be able to eliminate plastic packaging from our lives completely, but we can all help to make packaging simpler and more sustainable through the choices we make in-store.




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