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How can we solve SA’s expanding waste problem?

22 Nov 2018

The Sub-Saharan Africa region generated 174 million tonnes of waste in 2016, at a rate of 0.46 kilogramme per capita per day. It is the fastest growing region globally, with waste expected to nearly triple by 2050.

"Plastic waste is choking our oceans, yet our consumption of plastics is only increasing. Cities and countries are rapidly developing without adequate systems in place to manage the changing waste composition of citizens,” says Quayle.

This is according to a recent World Bank report titled, ‘What a Waste 2.0’.

By 2050, the world is expected to generate 3.4 billion tonnes of waste annually, increasing drastically from today’s 2.01 billion tonnes. “The report shines some much needed light on serious issues and rightfully indicates that the world is on a trajectory where waste generation will drastically outpace population growth by more than double by 2050. Although there are improvements and innovations in solid waste management globally, it is a complex issue, and one that we need to take urgent action on,” says Denis Quayle, Benchmark Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder.

The City of Cape Town's waste minimisation initiatives have helped increase the percentage of waste diverted from landfills from 12.3% seven years ago to 21.3% in 2016/17.

“The environment pays the highest price, and as the report states, in 2016 the world generated 242 million tonnes of plastic waste - 12% of all municipal solid waste. Plastic waste is choking our oceans, yet our consumption of plastics is only increasing. Cities and countries are rapidly developing without adequate systems in place to manage the changing waste composition of citizens,” says Quayle.

With Sub-Saharan Africa facing such a tremendous crisis it is imperative waste management alternatives and solutions are adopted immediately. Last week, it was announced by the City of Cape Town that their waste minimisation initiatives have helped increase the percentage of waste diverted from landfills from 12.3% seven years ago to 21.3% in 2016/17.

R118.7 million has been set aside for initiatives to minimise waste going to landfill sites, including for recycling and composting in the current financial year.

Although this is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done, and fast, says Quayle. Benchmark Recycling is launching businesses in the recycling space by ensuring cities in Africa are making more efficient use of the resources they consume. Benchmark Recycling aims to achieve this by harnessing the power of crypto currencies to raise robust capital which is then channelled into systems that will help to recover materials for reuse instead of landfill dumping. This kind of system is called a Material Recovery Facility or a MRF, pronounced murf.

“Ian Sibusiso Gwebu, our chemical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the Material Recycling Facility, field has proven that the SADC region can economically develop up to 35 units,” says Quayle.

A material recovery facility or MRF receives waste the same way that a landfill does. The waste is fed into the entire process by separators that separate the materials based on weight and dimensions. The MRF then allows for men and women to do the final high-quality separation into specific categories, driven usually by what the market wants to buy.

“Tens of thousands of jobs will be created in every major city once MRFs and associated industries are functional. From investing in BMK, to project choice, and to realisation of profits - this is a seamless process achieved using block-chain technologies and facilitated by Benchmark professionals who possess versatile skills in property, finance, engineering and business management,” says Quayle.

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