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Less rubbish, please

Posted by Laura Grant on July 23, 2009
Posted in Green News

The government wants people to throw less waste into landfills and reuse and recycle more. “We need to move away from being a throw-away society … to one which is much more responsible and cognisant of the need to … minimize waste and dispose as a last resort,” the new(ish) minister of water and environment affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, said in a speech she apparently gave at the local government indaba on environment this week (it was sent out in a media release).

But to get more people to start recycling, local municipalities will have to start making it easier to recycle. There are a committed few who carefully clean and sort their plastics, cans, glass and paper and then take them to the municipal collection centres. But, let’s be honest, it’s a schlep finding somewhere to store all the stuff until you’re ready to load up the car and drive to the drop-off point – which for some people can be quite a long way from home. Those of us who can afford it can pay for a kerbside collection service – free ones are few and far between. But, all in all, there isn’t much in the way of official incentives to get people to recycle.

Could things be about to change, though? The minister said that her department is developing South Africa’s “master plan”, called the National Waste Management Strategy, that will “guide us on how we reduce the amount of waste generated, recover materials where possible, recycle and reuse …”.  She added that her department expects that municipalities “will have to ensure that communities will have access to separate waste bins that will cater for recyclable and non-recyclables”. I wonder what that means. Will we one day in the near future be able to put out a wheelie bin of recyclables on municipal rubbish collection day? That would be nice.

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