AfriForum raises a stink about landfill sites flouting the law in SA

An audit by AfriForum showed that only 22% of the 127 landfill sites it surveyed complied with the minimum requirements.
An audit by AfriForum showed that only 22% of the 127 landfill sites it surveyed complied with the minimum requirements.
Image: AfriForum

Only 28 out of 127 landfill sites that AfriForum surveyed in 2019 complied with the minimum requirements in terms of the law.

The survey was conducted by AfriForum in municipalities where it has branches, as part of its national project to measure the standard of landfill sites in South Africa.

The audit consisted of a list of 33 questions that measure the minimum requirements for landfill sites in SA and includes factors such as access control, fires, medical waste, fencing and rehabilitation.

The National Environmental Management: Waste Act sets out a number of minimum requirements that a landfill site must satisfy.

Jaco Grobbelaar, project co-ordinator for environmental affairs at AfriForum, said the low percentage of landfill sites complying with requirements could be attributed to problems experienced by municipalities. This could in turn lead to poor and illegal management of the sites.

There were a number of issues identified at various landfill sites.

Some of them did not have access control or notices on the gate indicating what type of waste could be dumped there.

At other sites, there were no perimeter fences, and illegal medical waste was being dumped. AfriForum said there were families with children living on some sites as well as animals grazing and eating some of the waste.

Grobbelaar said there was poor rehabilitation and compaction of waste taking place at some sites, causing waste to be blown around, thus polluting surrounding environments.

Of the landfill sites surveyed by AfriForum, none of the 20 in Free State complied with the minimum requirements.

In Mpumalanga, only two of 25 sites surveyed complied with the minimum requirements. In Gauteng, 10 of the 21 sites surveyed did not comply.

Grobbelaar said that at most of these landfill sites, the relevant municipality's waste monitoring committee was absent.

Grobbelaar advised communities to follow several steps to improve landfill sites.

He urged communities to pressure municipalities to establish waste-monitoring communities, to set up a monthly meeting to discuss the state of each site and to set goals with feasible deadlines.

Grobbelaar said the audit report would be submitted to the Green Scorpions for investigation.

The Green Scorpions is a network of environmental enforcement officials from different government departments. Their task is to ensure that environmental legislation is adhered to and enforced. They also have authority to issue compliance notices and admission of guilt fines.

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